Gusto Payroll Review: Is it Worth it for Employers?

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Gusto Payroll Review: Is it Worth it for Employers?

If at some point you managed payroll manually, you know it is not a simple task. With multiple documents, forms, and calculations involved, all the details need to be super organized if you want to avoid errors — and fines. 

Thankfully, there are many payroll software out there, such as Gusto Payroll. Gone are the days that employers had to dedicate days to do all calculations and file taxes by hand instead of focusing on vital matters of their business. 

Gusto — and other human resources platforms — exist to ensure that tasks that can be automated, will be automated. And you should be taking advantage of that. Investing in a cloud-based payroll platform is a no-brainer, but is Gusto Payroll the right one for your business? Let’s dive in:

What is Gusto Payroll?

Gusto is a that provides cloud-based payroll services and benefits for small businesses based in the United States. Joshua Reeves is Gusto Co-Founder & CEO. 

The was launched in 2012 with a different name — ZenPayroll — and today, it serves more than 100,000 organizations across the country. Gusto is headquartered in San Francisco but has offices in Denver and New York as well.

Gusto Features

Even though Gusto is relatively young in a crowded market, it is widely loved because of its modern and simplified approach to human resources management. The people platform offers many features that can help you to make payroll, benefits, and management painless. Let’s go over the features:

Payroll Autopilot

Once you sign up and create your login, you will need to enter all the information pertinent to employee payrolls, such as pay rate and deductions. After you have that ready, you can set the payroll to autopilot mode.

This means that if you don’t have many variations in each pay period, you can set it and forget it, and your employees will still receive their paychecks at regular intervals via direct deposit. The only occasion that will require your attention is when workers receive bonuses and commissions. 

Gusto Payroll

If you have employees that are paid hourly, all you’ll need to input is how many hours they worked on the period. You can also allow them to this themselves.

The payroll autopilot is a crucial feature to any payroll platform, and it saves employers from tons of busywork that would need to be repeated every month.

Payroll Tax Compliance

Gusto takes on all the payroll tax responsibilities, which not only saves you plenty of time but also makes you free from one of the biggest headaches. 

The platform automatically calculates payroll taxes and files the required payroll tax forms with each , state, and federal agencies. All required payments are easily made on your business’ behalf. And you can generate and download reports for tax payments at any time.

Also, Gusto supports claims for the Federal R&D Tax Credit and SR&ED Tax Credit, for eligible companies.

Wage Garnishment

If an employee owes a debt for student loans, child support, medical bills, unpaid taxes, credit card debt, or any other financial obligation, you might be required to garnish their wages. This means that the employee’s salary will go directly to the appropriate authority.

Wage garnishments are not easy to manage if you don’t have access to payroll software. That’s because garnishments often come with specific rules and requirements. Moreover, there are federal employer garnishment rules to comply with. 

In some cases, employees even have multiple garnishments, which can make the calculations even more complex. 

Gusto has a helpful feature that automatically deducts employee garnishments once you set up the details in the system. The payroll software sends payments to the designated authority in all states except for South Carolina.

However, with more than 70% of our emerging workforce graduating with student loans, the best way to prevent having to deal with garnishments is providing student loan repayment as an employee benefit. Being proactive and partnering with Future Fuel to crush your employees’ student debt creates a sense of gratitude from employees towards you and your — which leads to higher loyalty and engagement.

Forms Preparation

Preparing all those year-end tax forms don’t have to be a pain. Gusto’s tax preparation feature generates W-2 and 1099 forms and automatically sends digital copies to all employees and .

The software sends an annual report of wages and other compensation paid to an employee, as well as the employee’s taxes withheld. For , the software sends a report of payments made within the last year.

December and January are busy months for every human resources department, so automating this time-consuming task is an always-appreciated help.

Besides the W-2 and the 1099, Gusto also prepares the Form 940, the Form 941, and the Form 8974.

Payment to All Employee Types 

Gusto offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to payment types and payroll periods. And this free tool is one of the big advantages of this human resources software. 

Nowadays, many companies have a mix of full-time, part-time, freelancers, and working for the . When organizing payments, this can be a challenge if you don’t count with the help of a software that allows you to pay them all on the same platform.

With Gusto, all you need to do is designate which type of worker each employee is and the platform takes it from there. Many other similar software offer the option of adding a 1099 contractor, but they usually charge a fee per employee. 

Besides that, Gusto allows you to make payments at any time — you’re not restricted to limited payment periods. 

New Hire Onboarding & Reporting

If you welcomed new employees to your , you know that the hiring process doesn’t end with the offer letter. There are a few tasks to be completed after that, which include onboarding and reporting the new hire. Each state requires official notification and paperwork once a new employee joins your . Depending on the state you live, and the growth pace of your this can become a significant amount of work. 

Most states require forms with the employee’s name, address, social security , and employer’s name, address, and federal identification . Gusto’s platform completes and files all the required paperwork for each new hire. 

Besides that, Gusto’s software also helps with the employee’s onboarding. The platform gives you the option to send your new employee a personalized welcome email with the details for him or her to fill out their own information — including contact information, W-4s, and bank account details — directly on the platform.


Gusto integrates with accounting, time tracking, point of sale, business operations, and expense management software to make your daily operations simple. 

These are a few of the software you can integrate to Gusto:

  • FreshBooks (accounting)
  • QuickBooks by Intuit (accounting)
  • Homebase (time tracking)
  • When I Work (time tracking)
  • Clover (point of sale)
  • SpotOn (point of sale)
  • HubStaff (business operations)
  • Accelo (business operations)
  • Expensify (expense management)
  • Receipt Bank (expense management)

Having the ability to integrate with a tool that you currently use can make a huge difference in the flow of your operations. Therefore, take a look at all integrations available for Gusto. And if you’re comparing Gusto with other payroll platforms, checking the integrations that they offer can help you ponder your decision.

Time tracking tools are especially handy because it allows you to push the approved hours through to Gusto payroll with just one click — that’s a big time-saver.

Employee Benefits Management 

Besides payroll, Gusto also offers benefits management — and the platform is growing a lot on this branch recently. The best part is that you can set up payroll and benefits all at once, for the same base price, because the two platforms are synchronized. 

You, or your employees, can manage 401(k) retirement plans, 529 college savings plans, health benefits, life and disability insurance, compensation insurance, health savings, and commuter benefits all through Gusto. And there is a plus: Gusto offers all employers free medical, dental, and vision administration. 

Additionally, the offers support through licensed advisors. Let’s be real, with more than 3,500 health insurance plans, it’s not easy to select the optimal coverage for your team, so this support comes in handy. 

Another positive point of Gusto’s benefits feature is that it helps business owners to navigate all regulations associated with benefits compliance. Gusto complies with ACA, ERISA, Department of Labor, IRS, HIPAA, and COBRA laws. 

Other Features

The features do not revolve around payroll and benefits only. Gusto also offers a few other human resources services. These services include organizational charts, anonymous employee surveys, trend analysis, employee relations advising, custom employee handbooks, job description templates, HR policy templates, harassment prevention training, and others.

Gusto has a super complete package of features that were created to support the different needs of small to businesses. The has done a great job implementing new features as it saw the needs of its users. No wonder why the is growing so fast.

If after going over the features, you believe that your business could benefit from Gusto, the next step is to check the software pricing plans.

Gusto Payroll Pricing

Thinking about the different needs and budgets of different businesses, Gusto created three different plans. This is an aspect that differentiates the from its competitors since most payroll platforms do not offer options.

While all Gusto’s plans include the basics of payroll — payroll processing and payroll tax services — they differ in the of features included. 

The three plans are:

Core Plan

If you just want an easy-to-use payroll system, with the basics to keep things simple, this is the plan for you. 

The Core plan covers all 50 states, deducts for garnishments, generates digital copies of year-end forms, integrates with a few software, allows multiple pay periods and schedules. Besides the full- payroll, this plan includes:

  • Employee self- and profiles
  • Health benefits administration
  • Workers’ compensation administration
  • Customer support
  • Paid-time-off (PTO) policies

This is the cheapest plan and it’s ideal for small teams looking for easy-to-use payroll software that comes with a few benefits management features. 

Price: $39/month base price plus $6/month per employee

Complete Plan

This is the go-to option for fast-growing companies that need to simplify employees’ compensation management with complete payroll features.

The Complete plan comes with every feature that the core plan offers, plus the following:  

  • Onboarding
  • Permissions
  • Built-in time tracking
  • PTO policies and time-off requests
  • Employee and surveys

All these features — especially onboarding and time tracking — are extremely helpful for companies that are constantly hiring due to rapid growth. 

The employee feature is made for companies that are starting to have trouble keeping all employees engaged and connected with each other. This feature allows the employer to create an organizational chart with pictures and fun facts about each employee, which is not necessary for small teams.

Price: $39/month base price plus $12/month per employee


The Concierge plan is dedicated to super-busy small businesses that need assistance not only with payroll but also with general human resources management.

This plan offers everything that the complete plan offers, plus the following:

  • Access to SHRM- and HRCI-certified HR pros
  • HR compliance support
  • Employee handbook templates
  • Policies and job description templates
  • Harassment prevention training

I would recommend this plan for small businesses that don’t have a structured human resources team. This plan is significantly more expensive than the other two plans, but it gives access to HR professionals, so it is almost like outsourcing a — which is worth it for some organizations. 

Price: $149/month base price plus $12/month per employee

Gusto payroll pricing

Choosing which plan to go with is a matter of understanding your organization needs. One cool aspect is that you can try any plan for free for one month. I recommend running a few payrolls on the free-trial period to see if it your business’ needs

Also, Gusto doesn’t run annual contracts, so you can switch plans or cancel anytime.

Since setting up the details on the platform might require some effort, you can off with the Concierge plan to access help from Gusto’s support team and once you get everything on track you can switch to a less-comprehensive plan. 

Gusto Payroll Pros 

This software is considered one of the best payroll alternatives for small businesses, and these are some of the aspects that users enjoy most about Gusto: 

Gusto Pros

  • Easy-to-use user interface. Gusto’s navigation system is intuitive and has a friendly approach. Depending on the plan, you can manage Gusto even with zero experience.
  • Transparent pricing. The ’s pricing plans allow small businesses in different stages to choose the most cost-effective option.
  • Wide-ranging employees covered. The ability to include , part-time employees, and freelancers to the payroll platform is appreciated by many employers.
  • Excellent customer support. Gusto’s customer support tends to be fast and efficient. You can also expect top-notch support from certified professionals if you go with the Concierge plan. 

There’s no doubt that Gusto is one of the best payroll platforms for small businesses. Now that you have a comprehensive idea of Gusto Payroll features, pricing plan options, strong and weak points, you can decide whether it is the ideal software for your business. 

Gusto Payroll: Is It Worth It?

Gusto has a special appeal for small business owners because of its usability and comprehensive set of features. Even if you’re new to payroll, you can easily handle the payroll responsibility with Gusto’s help. Experienced payroll managers also tend to appreciate Gusto’s solid processing and reporting tools. In this day and age, companies cannot spend precious time on tasks that can be done by software.

Furthermore, Gusto has convenient features and advantages that its competitors don’t have. Considering price and offerings, it offers more value to small businesses than similar platforms such as ADP, or Paychex. 

Since the offers a month of free-trial, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try. This investment will not only help you tremendously when organizing payroll but also will improve other aspects of your , such as benefits and compliance. Being on top of laws and tax compliance is a major benefit since it can prevent your business from being fined.

The key point is: making this investment will save you several hours and allow you to focus on the ‘s vital matters, consequently, increase your bottom line. Whatever your payroll software pick is, you can’t afford to have any.

So, take your pick, set up the system, and let the software do the rest!