Summary: Zenefits Reviews | What You Need to Know about Zenefits Payroll, Pricing and Funding

Zenefits is a web-based software that allows small businesses to manage their human resources operations online. This Zenefits review article provides a detailed overview of the services provided by, as well as the pros and cons of using this provider.

Zenefits launched in May 2013 with a simple question: what if you could run a business without having to worry about the administrative work behind running a business?

As founder Parker Conrad told The New York Times in 2014, at a previous startup “I ended up being the guy who had to deal with all the HR stuff at the company and it was an amount of time I deeply resented.”

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Zenefit Services

By freeing small businesses from administrative work, business owners can concentrate on growing their business instead of paperwork. Since launching, over 20,000 small businesses have handed over their HR duties to Zenefits. Those duties include:

  • Payroll
  • HR management
  • ACA compliance
  • Benefits/insurance
  • Time and attendance
  • Paid time off

Although there are dozens of Zenefits reviews on the web, we’ll try to offer a concise yet detailed Zenefits review, including providing an overview of what Zenefits has to offer and Zenefits pricing. Before we can dig into the Zenefits pricing, let’s examine what exactly they do.

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Currently in limited release, Zenefits Payroll is easy to use and essentially runs itself. You input the information and Zenefits Payroll can process changes, crunch numbers, and automate pay runs, as well as file taxes in all 50 states.

Zenefits Payroll automatically adds new hires to payroll and benefits, as well as calculating deductions. It allows for total visibility into any changes, when they happened, and why, and any changes in payroll will be synced. Zenefits Payroll can also work with outside payroll providers, should you want to stay with your current one.

HR Management

One of Zenefits’s aims was to reduce the amount of administrative busy work. Zenefits HR Management does this exactly. New-hire data is integrated across the Zenefits platform. Employees can view and update their own information, which takes the burden off of management. Zenefits offers insights into HR statistics, making data-driven decisions easy for managers.

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ACA Compliance

When the Affordable Care Act passed, it struck fear into the hearts of many small business owners. Zenefits takes that fear away. Zenefits uses payroll and benefits data to help clients understand their ACA obligations and stay in compliance by offering detailed explanations and in-product guidance. The correct forms can be generated and filed with the IRS in just a few clicks. None of Zenefits’s competitors can do that.


Zenefits technology is paired with a deep insurance expertise. After all, it’s what inspired founder Parker Conrad to start Zenefits. He wanted to put the zen in benefits, especially healthcare.

Zenefits offers access to over 31,000 insurance plans and 400 carriers, with step by step guidance for you and your employees when choosing a plan and benefits. It is licensed to operate in every state.

Additionally, it is fully integrated into the Zenefits system, so it automatically offers benefits during onboarding, offers COBRA to departing employees, and calculates deductions each pay period. Also included is Zenefits 401(k).

Time and Attendance

Still stuck with antiquated software requiring employees to clock in and out? With Zenefits, hourly employees can report their time from multiple devices. Managers can review and approve time with a single click. Approved hours are automatically synced with Zenefits ACA compliance to make sure your small business never runs afoul of it. 

Paid Time Off

Nothing annoys employees and management alike as much as paid time off requests. Employees nervously wait to find out if their request has been approved, management wants to make sure they’ve dealt with all the requests and still have enough people working when it’s busy.

Zenefits takes the guesswork out of PTO requests. Employees can request PTO from their dashboards. Managers can approve or deny from their own dashboards or from email alerts. A company-wide PTO calendar can be set up and shared to avoid conflicting requests. This is an especially popular feature in most Zenefits reviews.

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Finding the Zen in Benefits

Because Zenefits is web-based, it is compatible with both Macs and PCs, which means no expensive upgrades or specialized equipment. If you’ve got a computer and an internet connection, you can sign up right now. Zenefits’s location is irrelevant; it stores all your information in the cloud.

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Before you sign up, request a free demo. The Zenefits team will ask you a few questions and go through the software with you. If you decide the software is right for you, the information you’ve already given Zenefits will be integrated into your account.

Additionally, Zenefits has an app. This gives even more mobility and control to both management and employees alike.

Zenefits Pricing

Most small businesses spend a significant amount of money dealing with everything Zenefits streamlines. So, how much does Zenefits cost? It’s free.

The one exception is Zenefits Payroll. Currently in limited release, Zenefits Payroll is free for the rest of 2016. After that, the pricing is $25 per month and $4 per employee if the company signs a yearly contract or $6 per employee if the contract is month-to-month. These fees are nominal compared to what a business would have to spend to employ a dedicated person to do payroll.

It sounds like a small business owner’s dream: all the niggling details of administrative work in one convenient, easy to use place — for free. Is it too good to be true? Where does Zenefits funding come from to be able to offer this service for free?

Zenefits funding comes from two sources. First, like most Silicon Valley startups, it has several different investors and venture capitalists backing it. But every start up needs to turn a profit at some point. To use the Zenefits platform is free, but Zenefits makes money off of its clients when they choose to sign up for healthcare through them, making Zenefits their broker.

Think of healthcare like buying a house: most people have to use a realtor, a middleman who knows their client’s resources and needs and finds the best fit for them. Zenefits does this with healthcare. And much like the realtor in comparison above, Zenefits gets a commission off of the sale, generally 4-8% a month.

This is more common than you might know. The U.S. healthcare market has always relied on the broker system. The difference is Zenefits makes their involvement transparent.

Clients do not have to buy insurance through Zenefits to use it, though most end up doing that. Convenience is the main drawing point. With Zenefits, everything HR related is on one, easy-to-use platform.

Zenefits Reviews

There is no lack of Zenefits reviews. The company has its share of proponents and detractors. One attribute many Zenefits reviews miss out on is that Zenefits uses its own software. This means that many major problems and bugs are fixed before it becomes an issue for their clients. They’re road testing the software themselves, not expecting you to do it.

So, is Zenefits a godsend to overwhelmed small businesses? Or merely a way for a Silicon Valley startup to make money off of the byzantine U.S. healthcare system? As some Zenefits reviews have wondered, do you get what you pay for?

Overall, the Zenefits reviews are positive. Zenefits currently has a 3.8 star rating (out of 5) on SoftwareAdvice and a 4.0 star rating on GetApp. Many of the reviewers praised the ease of set-up and the intuitive logic behind the dashboard.

Perusing pages of Zenefits reviews brings to light two divergent themes. One is that the company is a savior to small businesses with excellent customer service. The other is that it doesn’t fulfill its promises and has terrible customer service.

One 5-star review on SoftwareAdvice praised the simplicity of Zenefits and called their customer support “leaps and bounds ahead of their competition.” But a different review on the same page countered, “The level of service they provide to client companies is atrocious. The communication channels are muddled and contact back is not consistent.”

It’s easy to see how both of these can be true. Parker Conrad seems to have founded the company with an altruistic desire to make life better for small businesses after becoming frustrated with the HR dealings of his own. Zenefits grew much faster than he anticipated. This led to some of Zenefits’s aims outstripping its ability to support them; something you should consider before deciding whether or not to use Zenefits for your business needs.

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Those aren’t the only negative Zenefits reviews. Some users would prefer to customize the dashboard and calendar. Others have had problems with the benefits going through in a timely manner. That is a major negative; your employees need their benefits.

Founder and CEO Parker Conrad knows that’s unacceptable. He took to question and answer site Quora to note that the company had a had a few bumps but making implementation smoother “is the focus of our engineering team…we have made a LOT of progress.”

One complaint that came up on multiple Zenefits reviews that Conrad did not address is that for Zenefits 401(k) plans, the only direct option is Ubiquity. This is a pretty big oversight on Zenefits’s part because Ubiquity isn’t even a major player in the retirement planning business.

Management will obviously work more intimately with Zenefits software, but employees of companies who use it should have their say, too. Many employees of Zenefits clients noted that they like how accessible their paystubs were and how easy it was to request time off and check their benefits. One 5-star review on G2Crowd went so far as to say that “Zenefits has greatly contributed to my love for the company I work for.”

When has HR ever been cited as the reason an employee loves their job?

Zenefits Competitors

Zenefits was the first and perhaps the most comprehensive all-in-one HR software on the market. That doesn’t mean they are still the only one. Zenefits competitors abound.

Gusto, formerly ZenPayroll, is so popular that SoftwareAdvice did a side-by-side comparison of the two. Zenefits may have more clients, but Gusto actually topped the poll. Gusto’s main drawback is the price. Free is hard to compete against, and Zenefits knows it.

ADP and Paychex, two stalwarts of the payroll and HR industries, are also getting into the game.

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Final Thoughts: Review of Zenefits

Zenefits is only three years old, but it has grown exponentially. There are always problems that come up when a company grows so quickly. In the past, Zenefits has been quick to address these issues.

At the moment, there is no other company that has sought to seamlessly integrate all the administrative work that goes with running a small business on one platform.

Deciding how to deal with the administrative work that comes with owning and running a small business is not a decision to be taken lightly. As we end this Zenefits review, we would like to remind you that it does offer the simplest solution — if you’re willing to endure the growing pains.

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