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June 6, 2024
XX min read

Square Payroll vs Zenefits


In the realm of HRIS tools, choosing the right platform can significantly influence the efficiency and compliance of your business operations. Square Payroll and Zenefits are two prominent players in this domain. Square Payroll is an online payroll service trusted by small businesses, focusing on delivering straightforward and efficient payroll management. On the other hand, Zenefits is a SaaS cloud-based human resources platform that helps more than 11,000 small and mid-sized companies empower their workforce, manage change, and stay compliant.

Comparing HRIS tools like Square Payroll and Zenefits is crucial to find the best fit for your business needs, ensuring you invest in a solution that supports growth, simplifies HR tasks, and enhances overall operational efficiency.

Square Payroll Overview

Key Features

Square Payroll’s key features are designed to simplify payroll processing for small businesses. Here’s an overview of what it offers:

  • Employee and Contractor Payments: Supports payment for both W-2 employees and 1099 contractors, catering to diverse business needs.
  • Automated Tax Filings: Automatically calculates, files, and pays payroll taxes on behalf of businesses.
  • Direct Deposit: Provides direct deposit options for employees, ensuring timely and accurate salary disbursements.
  • Time Tracking Integration: Seamlessly integrates with Square’s timecard app, enabling accurate tracking of work hours.
  • Tip Management: Efficiently handles tip distribution for businesses that operate on tipping models, ensuring compliance with labor laws.
  • Compliance Support: Helps maintain compliance with federal, state, and local regulations, providing peace of mind for business owners.

Zenefits Overview 

Key Features

Zenefits stands out with its comprehensive suite of HR tools designed to streamline human resource management for small and mid-sized businesses. Key features include:

  • HR Administration: Offers tools for managing employee records, onboarding new hires, and maintaining organizational charts.
  • Benefits Management: Simplifies benefits administration by integrating with various insurance carriers for seamless enrollment and management.
  • Payroll Integration: Integrates payroll with other HR functionalities, ensuring accurate payment processing and tax compliance.
  • Performance Management: Provides tools for setting goals, giving feedback, and conducting performance reviews, promoting employee growth.
  • Time and Attendance Tracking: Tracks employee hours, attendance, and leaves, and integrates with payroll for accurate compensation.
  • Compliance Assistance: Ensures businesses stay compliant with ever-changing labor laws and regulations through automated updates and reminders.


Square Payroll and Zenefits share several similarities as HRIS tools, despite their different focuses and feature sets:

  • Automated Payroll Processing: Both tools offer automated payroll processing, simplifying wage calculations, and payments for employees.
  • Compliance Support: They both emphasize compliance, helping businesses adhere to various federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
  • Time and Attendance Integration: Both platforms can track employee hours and integrate with payroll systems to ensure accurate wage payments.
  • Reports and Analytics: Provide detailed reports and analytics to help businesses make data-driven decisions and improve HR processes.


While Square Payroll and Zenefits have commonalities, they also possess distinct differences that cater to different business needs:

  • Core Focus: Square Payroll is primarily focused on payroll services for small businesses, while Zenefits offers a comprehensive HR suite that includes payroll, benefits, and performance management.
  • Benefits Management: Zenefits includes extensive benefits administration capabilities, whereas Square Payroll does not offer integrated benefits management.
  • Performance Management: Zenefits provides performance management tools that Square Payroll lacks, aiding in employee development and engagement.
  • Usability for Contractors: Square Payroll explicitly supports payments to contractors, making it ideal for businesses with flexible workforce structures.

Pros and Cons

Square Payroll


  • Simple and intuitive user interface, making it accessible for small business owners.
  • Supports both employee and contractor payments.
  • Automatic tax filings eliminate the need for manual calculations and submissions.
  • Seamless integration with Square’s ecosystem, particularly advantageous for businesses already using Square.


  • Limited to payroll and lacks other comprehensive HR functionalities.
  • Benefits administration is not included, requiring businesses to manage benefits separately.
  • Performance management tools are absent, limiting its utility for businesses focusing on employee development.



  • Comprehensive HR suite that includes payroll, benefits, and performance management.
  • Integrated approach simplifies HR administration and reduces paperwork.
  • Performance management tools foster employee growth and engagement.
  • Compliance assistance with automated updates helps businesses stay current with regulations.


  • Can be more complex and overwhelming for small businesses focused solely on payroll.
  • Higher cost compared to payroll-specific solutions like Square Payroll.
  • Integration with payroll might require additional configuration compared to dedicated payroll services.

Use Cases

Square Payroll

Square Payroll is ideal for small businesses that need a straightforward and efficient payroll solution:

  • Small Retail Shops: Streamlines payroll for a small workforce, ensuring timely and accurate payments.
  • Restaurants and Cafes: Handles tip management and payroll for both employees and contractors, reducing administrative burden.
  • Freelancers and Small Agencies: Supports contractor payments, making it easy to manage payments for freelance workers.


Zenefits is best suited for small to mid-sized businesses looking for a comprehensive HR solution:

  • Growing Startups: As startups scale, Zenefits can manage complex HR needs, from payroll to performance management.
  • Companies with Comprehensive Benefits: Businesses offering extensive benefits packages will benefit from Zenefits’ integrated benefits management.
  • Organizations Focused on Employee Development: The performance management tools make Zenefits a great choice for companies looking to foster employee growth and retention.


In comparing Square Payroll and Zenefits for HRIS use cases, it's apparent that each tool has its strengths catering to different business needs. Square Payroll excels as a straightforward payroll solution for small businesses, offering ease of use and efficiency in payroll processes. It’s ideal for businesses primarily concerned with managing payroll and contractor payments without the need for extensive HR functionalities.

Zenefits, on the other hand, offers a comprehensive HR suite that includes payroll, benefits, and performance management, making it suitable for small to mid-sized businesses looking for an all-in-one solution to streamline their entire HR function. The integrated approach of Zenefits can significantly reduce administrative workload and promote better employee engagement and development.

When choosing between Square Payroll and Zenefits, consider your business’s specific needs. If your primary concern is simple, efficient payroll management, Square Payroll might be the best fit. However, if you're looking for a comprehensive HR solution that covers payroll, benefits, and performance management, Zenefits would be more appropriate.

Key takeaways 🔑🥡🍕

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