Zenefits vs ADP: Which HR Service is Best for You?

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By David Borgogni

Last Updated on April 24, 2023 by Ewen Finser

If you want to know what the difference is between Zenefits vs ADP, and which service to go with for your business, this post will help.

Both HR services are incredibly useful when it comes to managing employees. Whether you need to run your payroll more effectively, keep on top of scheduling and shift changes, or you want an extra pair of eyes to help you stay compliant at all times, they’re both great – but which is better?

Bottom Line Up Front Summary: I like them both for different reasons! Zenefits is better suited for local, small-to-medium sized businesses. For local, or small-to-mid sized businesses, Zenefits is the way to go. If you’re a big business with international footprints and enterprise requirements, ADP is better.

We’ll explore each one in more detail, including their main features, integrations, support, pricing, and pros and cons – so you’ll get a really clear idea of which one suits you best.

Let’s start by looking at how they differ from each other.

Zenefits vs ADP – the Main Differences

There are a few differences between Zenefits and ADP.

  • Zenefits focuses on employee well-being in their partnership with Thrive, whereas ADP focuses less on this
  • Zenefits has a performance review cycle and goal setting for employees, whereas ADP has this and a focus on helping managers to reach their goals and gain higher positions within the company
  • Zenefits has a clearer pricing structure, whereas ADP requires you to contact them for a quote for pricing
  • Zenefits allows your employees to use their benefits with apps like Uber and Lyft, whereas ADP doesn’t
  • Zenefits doesn’t have as much to offer for global businesses, whereas ADP has a lot to offer in this regard, helping businesses to stay compliant across the globe

When it comes down to it, Zenefits is ideally suited for small-to-medium businesses mostly based in the US. ADP is better for larger companies with a bigger hierarchy for employees to rise through, with a focus on helping you to stay compliant in different regions.

The Similarities

There are a few similarities too.

  • They both have a mobile app that makes payroll information clear to employees
  • They both allow you to manage a complex schedule of shifts with employees, contractors, and freelancers
  • They both help you to stay compliant in terms of benefits and taxes
  • They both have detailed reporting with useful insights

Now, let’s take a look at them both in more detail.

What is Zenefits?

Zenefits offers a variety of tools to help manage payroll and HR. The mobile app allows employees to manage their documents, personal information, benefits, and pay stubs. Managers can guide employees using a performance review cycle.

It’s aimed at any-sized business, including those that employ freelancers and contractors, and those that rely on tips for payments.

Small Business Benefits Admin
Why Go With Zenefits?

If you are a small to mid sized business that needs more than "just a payroll" service provider, Zenefits is a great "next step". We love it because it works well with complex integrated teams of W-2's, freelancers, and contractors!

Find Your Perfect Plan
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

What is ADP?

ADP offers a lot of tools for managers to help to run their teams more smoothly. Using the app, employees can access information on their paychecks and benefits. Managers can easily manage even a very busy or complex shift schedule, and there is a focus on performance management, encouraging future leaders to rise up the ranks through businesses.

It’s aimed at either small or medium-to-large sized businesses, with different tools depending on business size.

Main Features of Zenefits

Let’s take a look at the main features of Zenefits.


A new employee will be connected to the payroll system immediately. This means they can immediately access their schedule, hours worked, breaks, and time off. They can also see when their pay is due.

If you need to make changes to an employee’s salary, it’s easy to do and will sync across the platform immediately.

They offer dynamic pay stubs, which can be accessed from anywhere using the app. This includes a breakdown of deductions. You can also add messages, so if you’re giving employees a bonus, you can add a note of thanks to their pay stub.

Actions can be done in bulk across the payroll system. This is really useful if you have a lot of employees. For example, you can pay bonuses all at once, saving you time and hassle and ensuring everyone is treated fairly.

Any tasks relating to payroll can be set up with an automated reminder system, meaning no vital tasks will be forgotten.

There are other features, including:

  • Managing multiple deductions for different employees
  • Generate custom earning codes
  • Assigning multiple pay rates based on each role
  • Direct deposits for employees
  • Manage tips for hospitality services
  • Manage remitting payments to Child Support agencies

Taxes are automatically filed, helping you to stay compliant without having to worry about little details slipping through the cracks. Common forms at federal, state and local levels are all taken care of, too, and Zenefits will automatically notify the correct state when a new employee begins work.

You can share payroll information with your accounting team using the in-depth reports (and if you’re looking for accounting software, you could try our guide on how to find the best accounting software for your business.)


Zenefits can connect you to one of their approved brokers, or work with your current broker. This is available in 49 states. Once you’re up and running with a broker, your employees can get a rundown of their options in terms of benefits. They can see their balances, plans, and claims, and can even connect their benefits to certain apps and services like Lyft or Uber.


Recruitment is made a little easier with Zenefits. You can use a pre-made letter template to offer a job or create your own from scratch. If you want to use their partner software, Checkr, you can run all relevant background checks without having to leave the Zenefits platform.

In terms of onboarding, employees can use the website or mobile app, instantly gaining access to information about their pay rate, benefits, and more. Relevant tax documents (like W-4’s and I-9’s are created digitally, and employees can use digital signatures – cutting down on paperwork and making the process much faster.

They have a dynamic organization chart. This shows each employee, including their contact information. You can include freelancers, contractors, and consultants on the chart, too.

You can manage paid time off policies, which can be made available for your employees to view.

You can manage and approve time off requests (employees can request paid time off via the Zenefits website or app). You can blackout key events, meaning employees won’t be able to request those days off.

There is some automation here, too. You can automate certain events (like transfers, promotions, or terminations), saving your HR team a lot of time, and ensuring policies are followed consistently every time.

Employee Management

Zenefits have an interesting partnership with Thrive, which aims to improve your employees’ wellbeing. It allows employees to track any issues that they have (like a lack of sleep, or stress). The Thrive integration will generate tools, ideas, and articles for your employees to help them. This encourages your employees to take care of their wellbeing.

Outside of this integration, there are other tools to help manage employees. The goal management system is useful. You can create goals with your employees and track their progress. This is great for aligning employee goals to wider company goals, and they can be integrated into your employees’ performance reviews.

Performance reviews can be set in cycles, ensuring they’re never forgotten. Pre-built templates can help to make this easier, or you can make your own from scratch.

Scheduling and Time Management

If you have a lot of workers doing different shifts, or freelancers or contractors dipping in and out, it can be difficult to keep on top of everything. Zenefits does make this a bit easier.

You can create shifts for workers, notifying them whenever a schedule is created or edited. If an employee can’t work on a certain day, you can block out those dates for them. This will keep everyone happy, and allow you to build a timetable that suits all your employees.

The punch-in system allows you to monitor your employees’ activities. They can punch in using the mobile app, and the time card fraud protection prevents any cheating. You can make it a requirement for your employees to take a photograph of themselves at clock-in, for example.


There are comprehensive reporting tools with Zenefits, which cover:

  • Compensation summaries
  • Equal opportunity statistics
  • Headcount activities
  • Stock options granted
  • Turnover rates

They also offer excellent reporting for payroll. Reports include:

  • Payroll reports
  • Payroll register reports
  • Deductions and contributions reports
  • Wage and tax summaries
  • Garnishment reports
  • Contractors payments report
  • Employee details reports
  • Tax payments summaries
  • Tax liability reports
  • Comprehensive ‘all-in-one’ reports

You can view these reports at any time, and they can be shared with your wider team.

Small Business Benefits Admin
Why Go With Zenefits?

If you are a small to mid sized business that needs more than "just a payroll" service provider, Zenefits is a great "next step". We love it because it works well with complex integrated teams of W-2's, freelancers, and contractors!

Find Your Perfect Plan
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Main Features of ADP

Let’s take a look at the main features of ADP.


ADP has three options for payroll – Small Business Payroll (1-199 employees), Midsized to Enterprise Payroll (200 -1,000 employees), and Global Payroll Services (multi-country employees).

Small Business Payroll offers a few features to make managing payroll easier. On the desktop, you can input employee information, and upload them onto the system. ADP will automatically run payroll processing, calculating and automatically paying deductions like health benefits and tax.

They offer three payment options for your employees – paper check, direct deposit, or prepaid onto a Visa debit card – and they also run quarterly and annual reporting for you. You can integrate time tracking with payroll too.

Midsize to Enterprise Payroll gives you access to the mobile app, which allows employees to clock in and out, view pay statements and tax forms, view and edit contact information, change deductions, and more. If your employees prefer, they can use the desktop version instead.

ADP handles different payment scenarios – for example, if some of your staff are on hourly contracts and others are on salaries, or if they have different pay rates.

Global Payroll Services allows you to manage payments in multiple countries, helping you to stay compliant in 140 countries. You can view multi-country payroll data in one view, access local-language offices if you require support, and receive support to help you stay compliant.

ADP has a lot of features to help managers to keep track. The manager dashboard allows you to monitor hours worked and overtime, for example. They also help you to stay compliant in terms of ensuring your employees have the correct meal breaks.


ADP offer strategic advisory services. This allows you to partner up with their experts, who can give you recommendations about what to offer employees, increase employee engagement, or how to offer benefits to attract new employees. They can help you to make informed decisions about what your employees actually want in terms of benefits.

It’s also easier for your employees to manage their own benefits using the mobile app or website. They can manage annual enrollment and view and manage their own benefits (or benefits relating to dependents).


In terms of recruitment, ADP helps you to save time by taking care of certain processes. For example, you can use built-in compliance mandates in the location you’re hiring, and background checks, drug testing, and medical screening can be integrated into this process.

ADP performs millions of pre-employment screens each year – saving you the time and hassle of having to filter through lots of applications.

Onboarding is made easier from the perspective of new employees. You can create an onboarding process that suits the needs of your own business, and you can share with them crucial information before they begin. They can connect with the culture of their new workplace from the beginning, by reading through the information on the app or desktop version before they start.

You can also cut down on paperwork by completing forms digitally, using digital signatures.

Employee Management

You can help your employees reach their future goals using the tools that ADP has to offer. You can see how an employee’s performance is aligning with company objectives, using performance goals and feedback. You can set an annual review cycle, with continuous check-ins from management, encouraging employees to improve their performance and think about their own future plans.

They offer continuous skill development, with talent strategies that consider each person’s abilities and limitations. This allows you to identify gaps, offering targeted training to suit each employee’s needs. This is easy to manage using the dashboard view, designed for managers to be able to easily access all the tools they need.

This focus on training is also applied to the leaders in your workforce. ADP allows you to assess the performance of managers, giving them anonymous feedback to get a truthful look at their performance.

They also offer succession planning. This allows you to prepare for the future by training new leaders to take over when the time comes, with tools like turnover probability calculation, easy to read performance history and tools for employees to create their own profiles, allowing them to move up through the company if they see an opportunity that might be right for them.

Scheduling and Time Management

It’s easy to manage your employee’s accrued time, attendance, and sick leave using the manager dashboard. You can easily track leave requests and even analyze absence trends to see how it compares to industry benchmarks.

Employees can punch in and out using a computer, mobile device, or a time clock. This allows you to keep track, especially if you have a lot of employees. They have built-in fraud prevention tools, to stop ‘buddy punching’.

The management dashboard allows you to easily visualize staffing needs, so you can ensure every shift is covered. You can also manage shift-swapping this way.


Reporting is powerful with ADP. You can analyze data across countries, regions, and business sites. You compare labor spends, time tracking, performance evaluations, and more – and you can easily share these with your management team. You can create new reports from scratch or use their pre-made reports to save time.

Zenefits vs ADP Integrations

Zenefits Integrations

Zenefits offers integrations with other services in the following categories:

  • Applicant tracking
  • Employee management
  • Retirement savings
  • Accounting
  • Productivity
  • Financial
  • Travel
  • Performance management

ADP Integrations

ADP offers integrations with apps and services in a variety of categories:

  • Accounting solutions
  • ERPs
  • Time and attendance
  • Recruiting and onboarding
  • Learning
  • Employee benefits
  • Productivity and collaboration
  • Point of sale

Zenefits vs ADP – Support

Zenefits Support

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Zenefits has a knowledge base with a few articles, helping you to learn the basics of the platform. It’s not that comprehensive, however.

If you need more support, you have to log in with your account. The support team is reported to be fairly slow to respond, and people have felt frustrated when trying to get hold of them urgently.

ADP Support

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ADP has two resource centers, one for small businesses, and one for midsize-to-enterprise businesses.

They also have virtual chat support, or automated phone support. Customer services are a mixed bag – although on the one hand they’re very responsive, some users have found that complex problems can be frustrating and difficult to resolve.

Zenefits vs ADP Pricing Compared

Zenefits Pricing

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There are three pricing plans available:

Essentials – $8 per month per employee

This plan includes:

  • Core HR tools
  • Core time management tools
  • Integrations
  • Mobile app

Growth – $14 per month per employee

This plan includes:

  • Everything in the Essentials plan
  • Compensation management
  • Performance management

Zen – $21 per month per employee

This plan includes:

  • Everything in the Essentials plan
  • Wellbeing tools

There are a few add-ons, including advisory services and Zenefit’s broker services. You can find out more about their price plans here.


ADP’s pricing is only available upon request, as you can mix-and-match the services that you require. You can find out more about their pricing here.

Zenefits vs ADP – Pros and Cons

Zenefits Pros

  • Employees can access clear information regarding their payroll and benefits
  • It’s easy to manage lots of employees, including freelancers and contractors
  • There is a focus on wellbeing which is great for employees
  • Automating certain tasks like the performance review cycle is really helpful

Zenefits Cons

  • Their customer service team is slow to respond at times
Small Business Benefits Admin
Why Go With Zenefits?

If you are a small to mid sized business that needs more than "just a payroll" service provider, Zenefits is a great "next step". We love it because it works well with complex integrated teams of W-2's, freelancers, and contractors!

Find Your Perfect Plan
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

ADP Pros

  • Lots of features in terms of supporting staff to grow and reach goals
  • Management dashboard makes it easy to reach tools you need to manage staff and payments
  • Easy to manage multiple employees and payment types
  • Reporting is easy to access and offers useful insights

ADP Cons

  • The customer service team is responsive but not always as helpful as they could be
  • Pricing isn’t immediately clear

Other Apps Like ADP and Zenefits: Alternatives to Try

There are a few alternatives you can try if neither Zenefits or ADP sound like the right option:

  • Paychex is a platform that allows you to manage payroll, compliance, employee benefits, and more. It’s an easy-to-use platform with lots of customization available. Find out more in our Paychex vs ADP Comparison.
  • Gusto is a platform that offers a lot of benefits for your employees, including an easier onboarding process and the ability to withdraw money from future paychecks. Find out more in our Zenefits vs Gusto comparison.
  • Justworks allows you to manage payroll and HR with ease. It has a focus on improving the workplace, with health and wellbeing perks and harassment training. You can find out more in our Justworks vs Zenefits comparison.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions:

Are the Zenefits and ADP mobile apps free for employees to use?

Yes, downloading the app won’t cost your employees anything.

Is it easy to cancel Zenefits or ADP?

Yes – if it’s not working out, you can easily cancel online by going into your account details.

Does Zenefits and ADP have good data security?

Yes – Zenefits has two-factor authentication, proactive notifications when data is changed, and end-to-end encryption for data in transit and data at rest. ADP had a security data breach back in 2016, which was swiftly resolved. They’re dedicated to making sure that data stays safe, with 24/7 global data protection policies.

To Sum Up – Which is Better?

So, which one is better?

We like them both!

Zenefits is ideal for small-to-medium-sized businesses, operating in one country. It works really well even if you’ve got a complex team of employees, freelancers, and contractors. We like the focus on employee well-being, too.

ADP is great if you have a large business and you want to go global. They have an emphasis on encouraging employees to rise up the ranks, training them to take on more responsibilities, and the focus on global compliance is great.

Bottom Line Summary: I like them both for different reasons! Zenefits is better suited for local, small-to-medium sized businesses. For local, or small-to-mid sized businesses, Zenefits is the way to go. If you’re a big business with international footprints and enterprise requirements, ADP is better.

If you’ve used either platform – as a manager or an employee – we’d like to hear your thoughts!

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