Time to leave manual HR processes behind!

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt working with small businesses over the past 6 years, it’s that time is never enough.

The lack of time is the number-one obstacle to achieving People goals, and manual HR tasks are usually the cause — boring, repetitive processes that suck up all of your time and attention, distracting you from taking care of your team and your business.

That’s why we founded Charlie: to help HR managers automate their HR tasks and get the time, headspace and tools they need to build high-performing teams.

In this guide, we list our favourite HR automation tools, depending on your company size, budget and the specific HR processes you wish to automate — hope you find it useful!

Try CharlieHR for free

< 200 employees

Best for SMEs, startups and agencies

200-500 employees

Best for mid-sized companies

> 500 employees

Best for large organisations

How to choose the right HR automation tool

Having worked in the HR automation software space for almost 7 years, we know what people love about CharlieHR — but we’ve also learnt that our product it’s not the right fit for everyone. 

Our experience has taught us to look at these 2 decision factors when it comes to choosing the right HR automation software:

1) All-inclusive HRMS or specific tool? 

Are you looking for an all-in-one HR automation solution to streamline most of your processes? Or are you trying to solve a very specific problem to reduce your HR admin, and don’t care about automating the rest? 

Depending on your needs, you may narrow your research to single-feature tools (that, for example, only automate payroll) or focus it on an all-encompassing HR software solution that does it all for you. 

2) Scaling your startup or running a big corporation?

Each HR automation tool is targeted at a specific type of company — its range of features reflects the precise needs of a business model or industry. The challenge here is to find your perfect match.

We hope this guide will help you pick the right platform for your type of company,  
but before making a decision always ask yourself:

  • Does this platform cover the HR processes I want to automate?
  • Are their current customers similar to my business?
  • Are any of the features offered not a good fit for my needs or culture?
  • Will I continue to be able to afford this platform as I scale?
Downloadable asset cover image

Download our Best HR Automation Tools table

All the information you need about our favourite HR tools — all in one handy guide.

Compare features, prices and customer review scores.

Download the guide

Best HR automation tools for small businesses

As a small business or startup, you need your HR automation system to help you make your core HR processes more efficient  — so you can stop wasting time on manual admin and focus on actually growing your company.

Your chosen tool also needs to be good value for money, and it’s important for its features to be scalable as you grow.

Let's have a look at the HR automation solutions we've researched - along with ours - as having been designed for small businesses. 

CharlieHR is an all-inclusive HR software for small businesses and startups. It helps People teams by automating their HR tasks and giving them the tools they need to build engaged and high performing teams. 

✅ PROS

🛑 CONS

  • ✅ All-inclusive HR tool
  • Everything your small business may need in terms of automation, all in one platform:
  • Employee onboarding
  • Time off management
  • Performance reviews
  • Engagement surveys
  • Perks platform
    • 🛑 Not suitable for big companies
    • The functionalities are not a good fit for the needs of big corporations (multiple international offices, in-depth finance and operations reports, etc). 
    • ✅ Transparent pricing
    • Only one, simple price (£4 per employee per month), inclusive of all features.
    • ✅ Designed for modern small businesses
    • Great UX and engaging design make it super easy and a pleasure to use by everybody in the team.
    • ✅ Integrations
    • A growing list of integrations allow you to sync all of your other tools (like payroll or ATS systems) with Charlie, removing the need for manual copy-pasting.
    • ✅ HR Advice 
    • Possibility to get a dedicated advisor to support you with your HR decisions, from anything around compliance to creating your first company handbook.

    ✅ PROS

    • ✅ All-inclusive HR tool
    • Everything your small business may need in terms of automation, all in one platform:
    • Employee onboarding
    • Time off management
    • Performance reviews
    • Engagement surveys
    • Perks platform
    • ✅ Transparent pricing
    • Only one, simple price (£4 per employee per month), inclusive of all features.
    • ✅ Designed for modern small businesses
    • Great UX and engaging design make it super easy and a pleasure to use by everybody in the team.
    • ✅ Integrations
    • A growing list of integrations allow you to sync all of your other tools (like payroll or ATS systems) with Charlie, removing the need for manual copy-pasting.
    • ✅ HR Advice 
    • Possibility to get a dedicated advisor to support you with your HR decisions, from anything around compliance to creating your first company handbook.

    🛑 CONS

      • 🛑 Not suitable for big companies
      • The functionalities are not a good fit for the needs of big corporations (multiple international offices, in-depth finance and operations reports, etc). 
      Try CharlieHR for free

      Huw, Office Manager – G2 review

      "CharlieHR have been very helpful with HR advice, their platform is very user-friendly and has made People Operations much easier to scale at our quickly growing start up. The Charlie Team is incredibly responsive to my questions and queries and has been an invaluable source of advice."

      Reviews

      Trustpilot
      4.8/5
      Capterra
      4.8/5

      Alice L. CEO & co-founder – G2 review

      "We couldn't have asked for better HR partners than CharlieHR. Their portal has everything you need to manage HR in a small company and more, and their advice line has been invaluable to us when managing tricky situations."

      Pricing

      £4 per employee per month regardless of the size of the company, including all features and with no hidden fee. Cancel anytime.

      Teamtailor is a modern and simple-to-use ATS (applicant tracking system) that helps small companies attract and hire top talent. Thanks to its automation features, Teamtailor drastically reduces your HR team’s time-to-hire.

      ✅ PROS

      🛑 CONS

      • ✅ Automate hiring with a customised recruitment funnel
      • Create your funnel and move candidates across stages as they progress.
      • 🛑 ATS only
      • Teamtailor covers recruitment automation only, but can be integrated with other HR software like CharlieHR.
      • ✅ Simultaneous posting
      • Teamtailor allows you to post job ads on multiple job boards at the same time, allowing you to reach more candidates.
      • ✅ Employer branding
      • Use Teamtailor to create your Careers page and promote your brand via social media — no technical knowledge required!
      • ✅ Find the candidates you need
      • Use smart filters and keywords to screen for the right candidates. 

      ✅ PROS

      • ✅ Automate hiring with a customised recruitment funnel
      • Create your funnel and move candidates across stages as they progress.
      • ✅ Simultaneous posting
      • Teamtailor allows you to post job ads on multiple job boards at the same time, allowing you to reach more candidates.
      • ✅ Employer branding
      • Use Teamtailor to create your Careers page and promote your brand via social media — no technical knowledge required!
      • ✅ Find the candidates you need
      • Use smart filters and keywords to screen for the right candidates. 

      🛑 CONS

      • 🛑 ATS only
      • Teamtailor covers recruitment automation only, but can be integrated with other HR software like CharlieHR.

      Sara, Director of People & Culture – Capterra review

      “I love that the system is modern, easy to use and has tons of smart functions that make me and my colleagues save a lot of time when recruiting.”

      Reviews

      G2
      4.6/5
      Capterra
      4.7/5

      Pricing

      Available on request.

      Pento is a payroll automation solution that combines advice with tools to streamline your payroll processes and reduce manual tasks. They’re best suited for fast-growing startups and small companies in the UK.

      ✅ PROS

      🛑 CONS

      • ✅ Expert advice from payroll specialists
      • Get the answers you need from someone you can trust.
      • 🛑 Payroll only
      • Pento is great for automating payroll, but doesn’t cover other Human Resources needs. You can integrate it with other software like CharlieHR to connect it with the rest of your HR stack.
      • ✅ Automated calculations
      • Let the software do all your payroll and tax calculations for you.
      • ✅ Guaranteed compliance
      • Pento automatically syncs with HMRC to update legislation.
      • ✅ All the reports
      • Get the full picture and keep all your accounting files in order.

      ✅ PROS

      • ✅ Expert advice from payroll specialists
      • Get the answers you need from someone you can trust.
      • ✅ Automated calculations
      • Let the software do all your payroll and tax calculations for you.
      • ✅ Guaranteed compliance
      • Pento automatically syncs with HMRC to update legislation.
      • ✅ All the reports
      • Get the full picture and keep all your accounting files in order.

      🛑 CONS

      • 🛑 Payroll only
      • Pento is great for automating payroll, but doesn’t cover other HR needs. You can integrate it with other software like CharlieHR to connect it with the rest of your HR stack.

      Jakob, Product Manager in Denmark – Capterra review

      “We always thought of payroll as something boring and annoying. Now it’s just a few clicks every month and that’s it.”

      Reviews

      Trustpilot
      4.5/5
      Capterra
      4.9/5

      Pricing

      Available on request.

      Best HR automation tools for medium-sized businesses

      Once you reach the 200 people mark, your HR needs will start to become more complex.

      The need for comprehensive reporting will be more prominent, as you’ll no longer be able to keep your finger on the pulse of the company as easily as before.

      Your team will likely be more varied, maybe with people working part-time, which comes with a whole set of new challenges. It’s possible that you may have expanded abroad, meaning your HR automation tools will need to suit local HR legislation and needs.

      And hiring will be on a different scale, so you’ll need more recruitment processes to be automated to ensure the same quality experience.

      BambooHR is a comprehensive HR automation software ideal for businesses with more than 200 employees and based in the United States. 

      ✅ PROS

      🛑 CONS

      • ✅ Optimised for US teams
      • You can get customer support during MA time-zone working hours, and the software’s settings, date formats and holiday dates are US-optimised.
      • 🛑 The Essentials package is limited
      • The basic package doesn’t include customer support by telephone and some important features (onboarding, ATS, electronic signatures and reporting).
      • ✅ Advanced onboarding functionalities
      • Inclusive of electronic signatures and custom checklists.
      • 🛑 Not ideal for UK teams
      • BambooHR’s support and functionalities are designed to meet the needs of US companies primarily.
      • ✅ ATS included
      • You can use the applicant tracking system included in the Advantage Package to automate your hiring.
      • 🛑 Plenty of add-on costs
      • Payroll, employee time sheets and performance management come at an extra cost. 
      • ✅ In-depth reports
      • From workforce planning to length of service, there are plenty of metrics to help you with difficult decisions.

      ✅ PROS

      • ✅ Optimised for US teams
      • You can get customer support hours during MA time-zone working hours, and the software’s settings, date formats and holiday dates are US-optimised.
      • ✅ Advanced onboarding functionalities
      • Inclusive of electronic signatures and custom checklists.
      • ✅ ATS included
      • You can use the applicant tracking system included in the Advantage Package to automate your hiring.
      • ✅ In-depth reports
      • From workforce planning to length of service, there are plenty of metrics to help you with difficult decisions.

      🛑 CONS

      • 🛑 The Essentials package is limited
      • The basic package doesn’t include customer support by telephone and some important features (onboarding, ATS, electronic signatures and reporting).
      • 🛑 Not ideal for UK teams
      • BambooHR’s support and functionalities are designed to meet the needs of US companies primarily.
      • 🛑 Plenty of add-on costs
      • Payroll, employee time sheets and performance management come at an extra cost. 

      Dana, COO – G2 review

      “I love BambooHR's applicant tracking system. It is customizable and allows you to move job applicants into various statuses to easily track where they are in the application process.”

      Reviews

      G2
      4.4/5
      Capterra
      4.6/5

      Pricing

      Two packages available (Essentials and Advantage) with add-ons at an extra cost. Exact pricing only available on request. 

      SageHR automation software offers five different packages, all tailored to the needs of medium-size companies, covering everything from core HR to annual leave management and shift-scheduling. They’re particularly strong at performance management. 

      ✅ PROS

      🛑 CONS

      • ✅ Objectives and OKRs setting
      • Set objectives for each team and track progress in your dashboard.
      • 🛑 Full package can be costly
      • In order to get access to all the features, including goal setting and shift scheduling, a 200-people company would need to spend £2,000+ per month.
      • ✅ Engagement surveys
      • Set up automated employee surveys that can be completed on the go using the mobile app.
      • 🛑 Basic mobile app
      • Apart from shift scheduling, the app is not developed enough to manage your HR admin on the go.
      • ✅ Shift scheduling
      • Give your people access to an interactive shift scheduling platform that shows everyone’s availability.

      ✅ PROS

      • ✅ Objectives and OKRs setting
      • Set objectives for each team and track progress in your dashboard.
      • ✅ Engagement surveys
      • Set up automated employee surveys that can be completed on the go using the mobile app.
      • ✅ Shift scheduling
      • Give your people access to an interactive shift scheduling platform that shows everyone’s availability.

      🛑 CONS

      • 🛑 Full package can be costly
      • In order to get access to all the features, including goal setting and shift scheduling, a 200-people company would need to spend £2,000+ per month.
      • 🛑 Basic mobile app
      • Apart from shift scheduling, the app is not developed enough to manage your HR admin on the go.

      Mansi, Front Office Executive – G2 review

      “Before, we faced so many challenges with the manual salary slips, manual attendance, and leave calculation. After using this software, things got automated and helped a lot with good stuff.”

      Reviews

      Trustpilot
      4.2/5
      Capterra
      4.4/5

      Pricing

      £4 per employee per month for the Core HR package (including employee database, onboarding, time off management, analytics and reports). Performance management, shift scheduling, time sheets, expenses and recruitment come at additional costs.

      Zoho is one of the best choices for teams working shifts, part-time or irregular hours. Companies can also create and automate timesheets online to track attendance and hours worked. 

      ✅ PROS

      🛑 CONS

      • ✅ Custom access and permissions
      • Set up your own approval process for managers to sign off hours worked and overtime.
      • 🛑 Feature offering can be confusing
      • Zoho offers a lot of different packages and apps, so it can be difficult to find the right tool for what you’re trying to do.
      • ✅ Automated timesheets
      • Get back control of your timesheets on one centralised platform.
      • 🛑 Not very easy to use
      • It can take some time and a few demos for everyone to understand how to make the most of the platform.
      • ✅ Mobile app
      • Employees can clock in and out using the Zoho app.

      ✅ PROS

      • ✅ Custom access and permissions
      • Set up your own approval process for managers to sign off hours worked and overtime.
      • ✅ Automated timesheets
      • Get back control of your timesheets on one centralised platform.
      • ✅ Mobile app
      • Employees can clock in and out using the Zoho app.

      🛑 CONS

      • 🛑 Feature offering can be confusing
      • Zoho offers a lot of different packages and apps, so it can be difficult to find the right tool for what you’re trying to do .
      • 🛑 Not very easy to use
      • It can take some time and a few demos for everyone to understand how to make the most of the platform.

      Taylor, Business Development Manager – G2 review

      “Zoho People is an excellent solution for HR needs and has served us well in our healthcare business. We have a lot of employees, so having the ability to track their data in one location is extremely helpful.”

      Reviews

      G2
      4.3/5
      Capterra
      4.3/5

      Pricing

      Multiple packages available, starting from £1 per user per month to £7 per user per month.

      People HR is a good choice for midsize businesses that need to automate their recruitment processes. On top of onboarding, data storage and performance management, this platform offers an easy-to-use Applicant Tracking System to streamline hiring tasks.

      ✅ PROS

      🛑 CONS

      • ✅ Video interview app
      • Talk to candidates face-to-face with the built-in video call feature.
      • 🛑 Interface is a bit clunky
      • The user experience is not very intuitive and the UX can feel quite outdated compared to other software.
      • ✅ Job ad creator
      • Design and personalise your job ads.
      • 🛑 Long, complex onboarding
      • It can get a lot of time and manual copy-pasting to get set up on the platform.
      • ✅ Mobile-friendly
      • Give candidates a good experience from the moment they decide to apply.

      ✅ PROS

      • ✅ Video interview app
      • Talk to candidates face-to-face with the built-in video call feature.
      • ✅ Job ad creator
      • Design and personalise your job ads.
      • ✅ Mobile-friendly
      • Give candidates a good experience from the moment they decide to apply.

      🛑 CONS

      • 🛑 Interface is a bit clunky
      • The user experience is not very intuitive and the UX can feel quite outdated compared to other software.
      • 🛑 Long, complex onboarding
      • It can get a lot of time and manual copy-pasting to get set up on the platform.

      Ankit, Assistant Director – G2 review

      “People HR helps maintain HR solutions like attendance, salary structuring, and many more. Earlier we were working on spreadsheets but this software helps us to make things automated.”

      Reviews

      G2
      4.2/5
      Capterra
      4.4/5

      Pricing

      Three different packages respectively at £5, £7 and £9 per employee per month.

      Best HR automation tools for large organisations

      Big corporations with thousands of employees distributed across multiple offices around the world have different needs when it comes to HR automation software.

      They will need all-inclusive platforms that integrate with their finance and reporting databases. Also, whatever tool they use, they need it to be able to ensure consistency and compliance across their various locations. 

      Workday integrates HR, finance and operations data from all parts of your company, helping People teams and leadership make the right decisions and keep everything under control. 

      ✅ PROS

      🛑 CONS

      • ✅ Finance insights
      • Get a complete overview of the financial health of your business.
      • 🛑 Sub-standard ATS user experience
      • The Applicant Tracking System can be difficult to use and not the best experience for candidates who have to create an account and copy and paste all the information from their CV.
      • ✅ Skillset analysis
      • Identify gaps in your team’s skills to inform hiring and internal promotions decisions.
      • 🛑 Requires extensive training  
      • The complex (and sometimes unintuitive) interface and features mean you need to account for a long onboarding period when first rolling out the software with your team.
      • ✅ Large-scale expense reports
      • Let the system process your team’s receipts and calculate budgets for you.

      ✅ PROS

      • ✅ Finance insights
      • Get a complete overview of the financial health of your business.
      • ✅ Skillset analysis
      • Identify gaps in your team’s skills to inform hiring and internal promotions decisions.
      • ✅ Large-scale expense reports
      • Let the system process your team’s receipts and calculate budgets for you.

      🛑 CONS

      • 🛑 Sub-standard ATS user experience
      • The Applicant Tracking System can be difficult to use and not the best experience for candidates who have to create an account and copy and paste all the information from their CV.
      • 🛑 Requires extensive training  
      • The complex (and sometimes unintuitive) interface and features mean you need to account for a long onboarding period when first rolling out the software with your team.

      Diana, Senior Manager in US – G2 review

      “Workday is the first global HCM solution we implemented for our employees worldwide. It is available in the languages we need, intuitive, easy to use, works on mobile.”

      Reviews

      G2
      4/5
      Capterra
      4.4/5

      Pricing

      On quote — depending on the package and the industry

      With Oracle Cloud HCM, you can migrate all of your current HR automation solutions to their cloud. Their comprehensive package covers document storage, analytics, employee self service and many other ways to automate your HR processes.

      ✅ PROS

      🛑 CONS

      • ✅ Converging system for international teams
      • Oracle’s cloud system allows companies with multiple offices around the world to sync all their employee data in one place.
      • 🛑 Substantial costs
      • The cost of Oracle can be quite steep, so only big companies can afford it, especially in the long term.
      • ✅ All-encompassing analytics
      • Oracle’s reports provide a single and scalable solution to sourcing and presenting data.
      • 🛑 Disruptive quarterly changes 
      • The interface changes almost quarterly making user experience more difficult.
      • ✅ Integrated AI
      • AI-powered tools help you spot areas of improvement and inform important business decisions.

      ✅ PROS

      • ✅ Converging system for international teams
      • Oracle’s cloud system allows companies with multiple offices around the world to sync all their employee data in one place.
      • ✅ All-encompassing analytics
      • Oracle’s reports provide a single and scalable solution to sourcing and presenting data.
      • ✅ Integrated AI
      • AI-powered tools help you spot areas of improvement and inform important business decisions.

      🛑 CONS

      • 🛑 Substantial costs
      • The cost of Oracle can be quite steep, so only big companies can afford it, especially in the long term.
      • 🛑 Disruptive quarterly changes 
      • The interface changes almost quarterly making user experience more difficult.

      Jenny, IT Director in US – Capterra review

      “I do like the cloud technology very much. It drives the right conversations within our business.”

      Reviews

      G2
      3.5/5
      Capterra
      3.9/5

      Pricing

      On quote, it depends on the package chosen by the company.

      Personio is one of the most popular HRMS software for UK and European companies with over 200 employees.

      It covers all your HR automation needs, with a particular focus on reporting.

      ✅ PROS

      🛑 CONS

      • ✅ User-friendly ATS
      • Oversee your hiring funnel and see what job boards bring the most candidates.
      • 🛑 Not ideal for international companies
      • Personio’s features meet the needs and legal requirements of EU and UK companies, but some adjustments may be needed for companies based elsewhere.
      • ✅ Data & reporting
      • Track important HR metrics and use them to drive your business forward.
      • 🛑 Long implementation
      • When you start, you are assigned an implementation manager to help you with the software roll out.
      • ✅ Integrations
      • Use Personio’s marketplace to integrate with the rest of your tech stack.

      ✅ PROS

      • ✅ User-friendly ATS
      • Overview your hiring funnel and see what job boards bring the most candidates.
      • ✅ Data & reporting
      • Track important HR metrics and use them to drive your business forward.
      • ✅ Integrations
      • Use Personio’s marketplace to integrate with the rest of your tech stack.

      🛑 CONS

      • 🛑 Not ideal for international companies
      • Personio’s features meet the needs and legal requirements of EU and UK companies, but some adjustments may be needed for companies based elsewhere.
      • 🛑 Long implementation
      • When you start, you are assigned an implementation manager to help you with the software roll out.

      Anna, Finance Manager in Germany – Capterra review

      “We have saved a lot of time preparing the payrolls for our employees as we had to do it all manually before and now it's just a couple of clicks.”

      Reviews

      G2
      4.4/5
      Capterra
      4.3/5

      Pricing

      Multiple packages available, starting from £1 per user per month to £7 per user per month.

      • Essentials package at €2.88 per employee per month, including absence management, attendance tracking, calendar and salaries
      • Professional package at €4.43 per employee per month, including reports and onboarding
      • Enterprise package with pricing on request including integrations and access to API

      Workable is a recruitment software chosen by many large businesses focused on scaling and automating their hiring. It streamlines time-consuming recruitment tasks for large companies.

      ✅ PROS

      🛑 CONS

      • ✅ Built-in sourcing tools
      • Talk to candidates face-to-face with the built-in video call feature.
      • 🛑 No other HR functionalities
      • Companies using Workable for their hiring need to integrate with other systems like CharlieHR to manage the rest of their HR.
      • ✅ Chrome extension
      • Found a suitable candidate on LinkedIn or Twitter? Use the Chrome extension to save their profile. 
      • ✅ Automated hiring steps
      • Send automated emails and create bespoke triggers to automate repetitive recruiting tasks.

      ✅ PROS

      • ✅ Built-in sourcing tools
      • Talk to candidates face-to-face with the built-in video call feature.
      • ✅ Chrome extension
      • Found a suitable candidate on LinkedIn or Twitter? Use the Chrome extension to save their profile. 
      • ✅ Automated hiring steps
      • Send automated emails and create bespoke triggers to automate repetitive recruiting tasks.

      🛑 CONS

      • 🛑 No other HR functionalities
      • Companies using Workable for their hiring need to integrate with other systems like CharlieHR to manage the rest of their HR.

      Sofia, Director of HR – Capterra review

      “I like that I am able to review candidates from my phone or desktop, that I am able to leave comments and feedback and rate candidates right from the system.”

      Reviews

      G2
      4.6/5
      Capterra
      4.4/5

      Pricing

      Three different packages:

      • Pay as you go: $129 per month per job
      • Standard: $279 per month (annual contract)
      • Premier: $559 per month (annual contract)

      HR automation tools – FAQs

      What are HR automation tools?

      With HR automation tools we usually refer to software used to carry on tasks that would otherwise be performed manually.

      One key characteristic of these tools is that they make employee self service possible by allowing team members to carry on their own HR admin, without having to pass through the People team. In this case, you can also refer to it as HR self service portals.

      What tasks can you automate with HR automation tools?

      Repetitive tasks that involve record keeping, calculations and data entry are the most common to be automated via HR automation tools.

      But how you decide to automate your HR processes ultimately depends on what type of business you are and your business needs:

      1. Small businesses will look for an HR automation tool that can help them streamline their onboarding, time off management and performance review processes, plus potentially something to help reduce time spent on payroll.
      2. Bigger companies with more than 200 team members will look for advanced payroll automation and ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) to scale their hiring.
      3. Large, multinational companies will need an intranet and an HR automation tool with advanced reporting functionalities to ensure consistency across the organisation.

      Check out these real life HR automation examples for some ideas on how you can supercharge your processes with the right tool.

      Try Charlie for free

      With Charlie, you have everything you need to manage your team and craft your culture – no HR experience required.

      Start your 14-day trial