Gusto and TriNet Zenefits logos.
Image: Rebecca Olason/TechRepublic

You want software that can help you accurately process your payrolls and taxes, and you want software that will provide your teams with attractive benefits and increase employee retention. It may seem like you’re asking for a lot, but you’re in luck: The right payroll software solution can provide the tools to support your business across several areas of operations.

While Gusto and Zenefits are both leading competitors in the payroll software world, the products have unique approaches to providing different features and capabilities. We compare key features of Gusto and Zenefits so you can choose the payroll solution that is ideal for your business.

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What is Gusto?

Gusto logo.
Image: Gusto

Gusto offers a cloud-based, full-service payroll software solution with HR tools that help businesses hire and provide compensation and benefits for their staff. The company provides its payroll software through three product tiers containing automatic payroll features, benefits integrations and other organizational capabilities. You can customize Gusto’s plans with add-on options to access more payroll and HR tools.

Gusto’s hiring tools and talent management capabilities can help HR managers source and manage their staff. The platform’s insights and reporting capabilities inform decision-making.

What is Zenefits?

The TriNet Zenefits logo.
Image: TriNet

Zenefits provides a People Ops Platform in the form of cloud-based software with features for managing payroll processes, health insurance coverage and other HR operations. Its software-as-a-service solution is offered in three plans, each billed monthly based on your organization’s number of employees.

You can use automation software to manage multiple aspects of your teams, from onboarding new staff members to conducting performance reviews. The software also enables users to provide comprehensive healthcare plans and other benefits to their employees, and it offers features to help management improve their compliance, team productivity and employee experience.

Gusto vs Zenefits: Feature comparison

FeaturesGustoZenefits
529 College Savings planYesNo
Built-in employee scheduling capabilitiesNoYes
Benefits brokering in-houseYesNo
Platform mobile appNoYes
Custom admin permissionsYesNo
Health insurance coverage in all 50 statesNoYes

Gusto vs Zenefits: Payroll features

Gusto

Gusto’s full-service tools let businesses run unlimited payrolls easily. The solution has time-tracking built in, meaning that employees’ hours are automatically synced to their payroll data. The automated nature of the integrated solution also means that other factors affecting payroll, like health insurance, 401(k), workers’ compensation and PTO, are appropriately managed.

Gusto can manage payroll, regardless of where your staff members reside. In addition, the payroll solution can process contractor payments in more than 80 countries and handle the tax registration process for employees in all 50 U.S. states. For hourly workers, geolocation time tracking ensures that business records stay accurate and compliant.

Gusto also automatically files payroll taxes with the appropriate government agencies. Employees can view pay stubs and W-2s in the system, as well as access their pay fast through Gusto debit cards.

Zenefits

You can process unlimited payruns through Zenefits’ easy-to-use platform. Its automated features simplify payroll processing, with automatically synced time off, benefit deductions, scheduling data and updates to salary information.

Zenefits admin and payrun features help you manage payroll tasks with automated reminders. Features like automatically prorated payments for new employees, pay previews and the ability to capture reported tips are beneficial for ensuring accurate payments and compliance.

Zenefits lets businesses process multiple deductions and automatically handles federal and state tax filings, including new hire filing and 1099 filings to the IRS. Garnishments are no trouble, as the platform calculates and sets aside garnishment withholding sums.

Zenefits can process direct deposits to all workers, including full-time employees, contractors, freelancers or consultants. Workers have mobile access to their dynamic pay stubs so they can view their deductions and payroll information even after they have left their position.

Gusto vs Zenefits: Benefits

Gusto

Gusto acts as a broker and helps employers offer their workers health and financial benefits. These affordable benefits include low-cost workers comp, commuter benefits, and HSA and FSA options. In addition, the premium Gusto plan provides users access to 401ks and dental, vision and health insurance administration. Gusto allows users to integrate existing brokers and eligible health plans for easier management.

Several no-cost perks are offered for employees, like the open-enrollment renewal features and budgeting tools. For instance, the Gusto Wallet app enables employees to manage their paychecks, and they can set up automatic savings with the Gusto Cash Accounts. The app lets employees split their wages between their accounts and gain budgeting insights.

Zenefits

The Zenefits automated system supports businesses in providing medical, dental and vision benefits in 49 states. Additional benefits include FSA, 401k, life and disability, HSA, commuter and supplemental benefits. Regarding ACA regulations, the platform keeps up with the latest updates and handles compliance automatically.

Workers can enroll for benefits directly on the platform. In the Zenefits app, employees can view their balances, claims and plan information from their mobile devices. By integrating the Zenefits app with other apps, employees can connect and apply their benefits on-the-go.

Gusto vs. Zenefits: Reporting, insights and analytics

Gusto

Gusto lets you view and share a wide range of reports related to payroll, benefits, workers and taxes. For instance, worker time-off data can be organized by date, department or employee so you can generate the right reports for your needs.

Higher-cost plan tiers let leaders and decision makers access more reports and holistic insights on data related to taxes and workforce costs. Gusto even lets businesses generate custom reports using its templates, enabling them to gain the required data and insights.

Another reporting perk available through the higher-cost Gusto plans is the ability to generate reports about employees. With anonymous employee surveys, you can improve your employees’ experience by gaining actionable insights from them and analyzing survey results over time. The project tracking and workforce cost reports can also provide insights into team productivity and labor budgeting.

Zenefits

Zenefits can keep track of multiple business aspects through the platform’s reporting features. For example, Zenefits can generate payroll timelines and ledger reports to help you understand your compensation spending. Plus, you can learn how payroll costs are distributed across each of your labor types.

In addition, Zenefits makes tax reporting a breeze, as the software provides extensive ways to visualize and manage your finances through reports, which include Tax Liability Reports, Tax Payments Summaries and Garnishments Reports.

The People Analytics features allow you to see data about payroll, HR and benefits; this data can be viewed as reports used to curate visualizations and can be shared with others.

How to choose between Gusto and Zenefits

When choosing between Zenefits and Gusto, you should consider the features that mean the most to your organization. Download this payroll services comparison tool from TechRepublic Premium to help you make your decision.

If you want to optimize your payroll operations through business insights, Zenefits may be a better choice, as Zenefits provides a far greater range of reporting capabilities and BI visualization options than Gusto. Zenefits enables reporting for wage details, tax summaries and other payroll data so leaders and employees can quickly gain relevant payroll info. Organizational leaders and decision makers who use Zenefits can easily visualize a wide variety of datasets, enabling them to reach more actionable insights through reports that sum up info regarding historical data, earnings, deductions, contributions and taxes for each run.

Gusto’s payroll solution takes a more hands-on approach to employee benefits. While Zenefits just enables businesses to partner with benefits brokers, Gusto acts as the broker for its users and provides the option to integrate existing brokers.

Finally, consider integrations when deciding upon a software system for your business. Choosing a solution that connects well with the third-party solutions that your company uses can make a significant difference in its functionality. For instance, Gusto doesn’t provide built-in employee scheduling, but it does integrate with popular scheduling solutions. If scheduling capabilities are essential to your organization’s needs, ensure that the scheduling software you use is supported by Gusto.

If you want to explore more payroll software options, read about the best payroll software for small businesses, 8 top payroll processing services for small businesses, Gusto vs Justworks, Gusto vs QuickBooks and Rippling vs Gusto.