BambooHR vs. Zenefits Z2: An HR Software Showdown

By Juan Martinez Features PCmag

Choosing the right human resources (HR) software for your company isn't easy. There are dozens of vendors that sell serviceable tools guaranteed to help your HR managers. However, because every organization has its own unique needs, budget limitations, and collection of legacy software, you'll want to be sure the tool you choose meets all of your organization's specific needs.

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The two HR tools that receive our highest recommendation are BambooHR and Zenefits Z2. Both platforms are sleek, feature-rich, and affordable (even for small businesses). However, only one is built to handle everything your company throws at it. In this piece, we'll examine the similarities and differences between both tools, and then we'll tell you which one is better equipped to handle a full workload of HR tasks.

Pricing

Zenefits Z2 is available in four price tiers, beginning with a free tool capable of handling hiring, onboarding, benefits administration (BA), and very basic reporting. As the tiers ascend, you're given access to additional features. The Platinum tier, which costs $12 per month per employee, gives you access to the whole shebang, including expense reporting, time-off management, and document management applications. Zenefits Z2 users can also pay for additional apps a la carte, including flexible spending, commuter benefits, and health savings apps.

BambooHR begins at $7 per employee per month for a bundle that includes an applicant tracking (AT) system and performance management. As a starting price, BambooHR's package is more expensive than Zenefits Z2, which doesn't prepackage AT system and performance review functionality even at its highest tier. However, BambooHR doesn't publicly list its pricing, so it's impossible for potential customers to browse the website and figure out what they'll be paying for software. This also means that price tiers could exceed even Zenefits Z2's $12-per-month, per-user tier. As a result of this lack of clarity, and because of Zenefits Z2's flexible pricing and a la carte additions, we recommend Zenefits Z2's pricing model. Edge: Zenefits Z2.

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Features and Functionality

Although both tools cover nearly every aspect of your company's HR needs, neither is able to cover the entire spectrum of HR functionality. For example, BambooHR doesn't offer prepackaged payroll or scheduling tools. And, as we previously stated, Zenefits Z2 doesn't offer AT system and performance management apps, nor does it feature a scheduling tool. Because of these exclusions, you'll have to decide for yourself what's most important to your business, especially if you're not willing to spend more money on third-party integrations.

In terms of what they do offer, Zenefits Z2's full-service payroll tool offers cool features such as the live paystub preview that lets an administrator make last-minute changes that are synced with the information in other apps associated with the employee. The company's BA tool offers admins a variety of its plan options plus a ton of management features for both employers and employees. Zenefits Z2 lets managers shop for plans, design custom benefits packages, and monitor employee enrollment and renewal statuses. But, more importantly, Zenefits Z2 offers business intelligence (BI) reporting on benefits data.

BambooHR's BA tool is also killer. It lets companies track custom benefit packages, including 12 different benefit types for specific employee groups. BambooHR includes the option to set a variable rate health plan, which lets you track age-based plans and any health benefit where each individual employee pays a different, varied amount. Finally, added benefits reports allow the tracking of historical benefit information for use when filling out Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant forms, such as the 1095-C and 1094-C. Benefits reports in BambooHR provide benefit history, including eligibility, enrollment, coverage, and cost; all forms are exportable. BambooHR's performance management tool features a quadrant-style matrix that plots out how employees are doing compared to colleagues, separating the "rock star" performers from those who are "checked out." The entire process is simpler to set up and execute than comparable review processes from competitor systems. BambooHR is one of few HR software solutions with an integrated AT system that's easy to use and ties in nicely with the company's onboarding process. Edge: Tie.

Integrations

Zenefits Z2 has 27 prepackaged integrations. The company says it has more than 50 others in development. Integrated products include Asana, Box, Google Drive, and Hive. The list of integrated products also includes Lyft, Microsoft Office 365, and Salesforce. Zenefits Z2 also features an open application programming interface (API) should you need to build your own integrations.

BambooHR also features 27 prepackaged integrations including Google Drive, but the partnerships are a lot less sexy than the ones you'll find in Zenefits Z2. For example, there are no Office 365, Salesforce (instead you get NetSuite), or ride-sharing app integrations. Sure, the number of integrations are equal, but BambooHR is playing in the minor leagues compared to Zenefits Z2. However, as with Zenefits Z2, BambooHR has an open API, so you can make any connection happen if you're willing to do the work yourself. Edge: Zenefits Z2.

The Bottom Line

BambooHR and Zenefits Z2 are the kings of the HR software space. They are reasonably priced and easy to use, have gorgeous user interfaces (UIs), and offer open APIs that let you tie your existing apps into your HR system. Unfortunately, BambooHR's vague pricing model and weak roster of integration partners put it a step below Zenefits Z2, which has a clear and flexible pricing model and a collection of cool integration partners that your business will love. Our recommendation: Zenefits Z2.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.