Personio vs CharlieHR:

Which one is better for UK small companies?

Try CharlieHR for free

Free for 7 days


No credit card needed   


Cancel any time

Charlie vs PersonioCharlie vs Personio
Joe Hodges

Written by:

Joe Hodges

Congratulations: if you’re here, reading this page, it means you’re very close to choosing the right HR platform for your business! You’ve shortlisted CharlieHR and Personio, and now you have to make a final decision. This guide will help you do just that.

CharlieHR and Personio, compared

Yes, both Charlie and Personio are HR automation platforms, but the needs they target are a bit different.

Charlie is the ideal HR software for small businesses and startups who need a simple and effective solution to cut down on admin tasks and put solid HR foundations in place.

Personio’s complex functionalities help bigger businesses level up their Human Resources, once those foundations are already in place.

Let’s have a look at what that means in terms of actual feature offering and pricing.

See something inaccurate? Let us know

Charlie vs Personio –
Features & packages comparison

The most immediate difference between Charlie and Personio is in their packages: 

  • Charlie has an all-inclusive plan that gives you immediate access to all the HR tools you need to reduce the time you spend on HR admin.
  • Personio has a lot of different plans and add-ons to cater for the varied needs of companies with as many as 2000 team members  

The small businesses I talk to on a daily basis appreciate the fact that Charlie’s plan and pricing are clear and straightforward. The fact that it’s all-inclusive takes a lot of stress out of the decision-making process: you don’t have to choose which add-ons to spend your budget on: it all comes in one package.

Charlie’s offering has been carefully designed to meet all the needs of small businesses and startups with up to 200 employees — you know you’ll get everything you need, nothing more and nothing less.

With Personio, on the other hand, you need to carefully consider the features you need in order to pick the right plan for your business. The Professional and Enterprise packages are obvious picks for larger businesses that need advanced reporting and management tools across multiple countries and sub-companies.

Smaller businesses may instead consider Personio’s Essentials package — so let’s see how it compares to Charlie in meeting the needs of companies with under 50 team members:

Cons of Personio’s Essentials plan vs Charlie:

  • Personio’s Essentials plan doesn’t include onboarding 
  • If you need performance management, you need to add it to Personio’s Essentials for an extra cost
  • The pricing of the Essentials plan doesn’t include software setup
  • Personio doesn’t offer engagement surveys and employee perks

Charlie’s all-in-one plan includes onboarding, performance reviews, engagement surveys and perks, and there is no extra fee for setting it up. 

Pros of Personio’s Essentials plan vs Charlie:

  • It includes attendance tracking if you need to keep clock-in and out records 
  • Personio’s Essentials plan includes preliminary payroll
  • It offers a mobile app

Charlie doesn’t have a payroll management feature, but it integrates with payroll tools such as Pento (and soon Xero).

Charlie vs Personio –
Pricing comparison

The different ways Charlie and Personio package their offering reflects on their pricing structure too. 

Charlie’s pricing is very simple: 

  • £4 per user per month inclusive of all software features 
  • Customer support is included (10am - 5pm Monday-Friday with a 10-minute average response rate) 
  • No set-up fees
  • Pay monthly, cancel anytime

Personio’s pricing is a bit more complex:

  • Cost varies depending on which pricing bracket you end up in. For example the lowest bracket groups together companies with 0 to 25 team members. So, if you have 10 employees, you’ll end up paying the same as a larger company with 25 employees. 
  • Pricing also varies depending on which plan you choose (Essentials, Professional or Enterprise).
  • Some features, like performance management, can increase your base cost by 50%
  • Core customer support is free (Mon-Fri 9am-6pm), and you can upgrade to have an account owner for an extra cost (response time 2-8 hours).
  • If paying monthly, you can cancel on a monthly basis. If paying yearly, the contract can be cancelled 3 months before it expires.

In conclusion, in order to compare Charlie and Personio’s pricing, you’ll need to consider your company size and decide what Personio plan and extra features you’d like to go for. 

    Personio’s pricing can become harder to afford if your user count is on the lower end of their pricing brackets. Plus, you’ll have to take into account that each added feature will considerably increase your final bill. 

    Charlie vs Personio –
    Ease of use comparison

      Because of the complexity of Personio’s HR platform, it can take months to roll it out to your team, vs the almost immediate set up you get with Charlie. Plus, Personio’s advanced features require a bigger learning curve compared to Charlie’s. 

      Companies that choose Charlie are quite different from those using Personio, and that is reflected in the platforms’ ease of use too.

      Businesses that choose Charlie are smaller: often the person responsible for HR wears many other hats (they may also look after finance, or even be a startup founder). Small business leaders don’t have time to invest in a long set-up process: they want an HR tool that they can roll out to their teams in seconds, and be confident that everyone will find their way around it.

      Charlie does give them just that. It takes a few minutes to set up your Charlie account and invite your team to the platform. Once you’re live, the hassle-free interface means your employees can easily perform any HR tasks independently (like booking time off or creating onboarding checklists) — no need to go through any sort of training or intro demos.  

      CharlieHR dashboard

      On the other hand, Personio was built for bigger companies: its wide range of advanced HR features makes it the best pick for businesses with more complex HR needs. Software setup is therefore much longer: it can take months to set up Personio and roll it out to your team, and you’ll have to pay an implementation fee to cover training and onboarding.

      You should also expect a bit of a learning curve when it comes to understanding how to get the most out of Personio’s multi-faceted HR platform — hence why you may consider paying extra for premium customer support. 

      Isy Odlin

      Charlie is super intuitive, which means we learned how to maximise its benefits to the organisation really quickly.

      — Isy Odlin, Chief of People at hub

      CharlieHR is used by:

      (~ 30 employees)
      (~ 80 employees)
      (~ 70 employees)
      (~ 80 employees)

      And we supported these businesses when they were just starting out:

      Personio is used by:

      (~ 4,000 employees)
      (~ 1,300 employees)
      (~ 1,000 employees)

      Choose Charlie if…

      • You’re a small UK business with less than 200 employees
      • You want the best value for money
      • You want to spend minutes rolling out your HR tool, not months
      • It's a top priority for your HR software to be user-friendly and simple

      Choose Personio if…

      • You’re a medium-sized business or large company
      • You’re looking for an advanced tool with in-depth reporting functionalities
      • You have multiple offices and teams spread around the world
      • You want to be able to customise your plan according to your needs


      I hope this guide helped you understand what HR software may be best for your company!

      If you’d like to take Charlie out for a spin, you can start a 7-day free trial, no credit card required. 

      Make your HR effortless