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Smart People Management: Top 5 HR Software Solutions for Small UK Businesses

Even with a small business, managing all your HR responsibilities manually eventually catches up with you. Using paper-based processes to handle complex tasks like calculating time off in lieu (TOIL) and onboarding new hires is tedious and inefficient, and can even cause compliance issues.

And if you’re working to scale your operations, all these manual processes take you away from engaging your existing staff and finding the right candidates to fill open roles.

HR software helps small businesses simplify and automate processes so you can focus on improving the employee experience and growing your business. But how can you find a tool that aligns with your team’s values and gives you the support you need?

We’ve researched HR software for small businesses in the UK and narrowed the list down to five top tools that take mundane tasks off your plate and give you time back in your day.


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Look Out for these 9 Features to Ensure You’re Picking the Ideal HR Tool for Your Team

Without a clear guide, you can end up going around in circles as you try to decide on the right HR tool for your business. Your main focus should be the return on investment and the number of hours it will save you – which includes the software’s implementation.
Look for these nine features to find a platform that gives you the support and features you need: 

  1. Fantastic customer success team: Above all, prioritise a customer care team that provides in-depth onboarding and ongoing support.
  2. Self-service portal: Empower staff to take work into their own hands (and off your plate) with a straightforward self-service model.
  3. Streamlined recruitment and onboarding: A frictionless hiring process becomes increasingly important as you scale, so look for applicant tracking and onboarding features.
  4. Automated compliance management: Automation and reporting features will help address one of the biggest HR challenges for any business – compliance.
  5. TOIL solution: No more spending a whole day calculating time off in lieu across your employees – get a tool that does it for you.
  6. Streamlined request and approval process for leave and absence: The right platform will reduce the steps for employees to request and managers to approve time off.
  7. Continuous Professional Development (CPD) to motivate and engage employees: Keep an eye out for CPD features that help you engage your employees and invest in their growth.
  8. Error-free payroll export: Be sure your HR platform streamlines the payroll process so you can easily export all your logged hours, leave and benefits information
  9. Core values that resonate: Look for a solution that puts people first and aligns with your core values, whatever they may be.

Want to see how you can reduce your expenses while saving time with HRLocker? Check out our ROI calculator.
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The 5 Best HR Software Solutions for Small UK Businesses

Now you know what to look for in a tool, explore our top five picks of HR solutions:

  • HRLocker
  • Rippling
  • People HR
  • Breathe 
  • BrightHR

We’ll go over the key features, how each tool can help your business succeed, pricing and a general overview of the platforms, starting with our top pick: HRLocker.


“We operate as an open, transparent meritocracy where everybody in the business can challenge everybody else… but you have to create an environment where people are happy to share their vulnerabilities, both work and personal.”

If this sounds like the kind of value system your business operates on, then you’ll mesh perfectly with HRLocker. The platform is a single source of truth for everything HR, from leave management and recruitment to payroll and compliance.

But what really sets us apart is our customer support, which fits right in with one of our core values, “customer focus.” Our users continually emphasise the personalised care they get from our customer success team, who work alongside you to make sure you get the most out of the software.

As you can see, our values aren’t just something listed on our website and left to the wayside – we live and breathe by them. Finding a platform that aligns with the same principles your company embraces will help ensure your HR solution fully integrates with your team and operations.

Time Off HRLocker Screen

HRLocker’s straightforward employee portal empowers your people to request time off, record sick leave and manage their calendar.

“This is the 3rd organisation where I’ve used this software (I introduced it in all 3). It’s an easy way to manage employee leave and other HR tasks, and it’s easy to implement and use. The team is great – they offer quick support and are very friendly, responsive and helpful.”

Hilary D. (HR manager)

Top features for managing people and replacing your manual tasks

  • Self-service portal to give staff more control and automate data management
  • Advanced time management tool for time off, TOIL, sick leave and time tracking
  • CDP module to help your employees and your business grow and thrive
  • Streamlined payroll export to eliminate errors and minimise your workload
  • Recruitment and onboarding: HIRE is an end-to-end solution that saves you hours of work
  • Compliance management to stay in line with GDPR and other regulatory requirements
  • Other time-saving features like reporting and =performance management
  • Best-in-class customer success to help you make the most of the platform

The benefits of using HRLocker

When you use HRLocker, you cut down on manual HR tasks that clutter your day and can take advantage of a centralised solution that works as a single source of truth for your business. The platform stores unlimited employee information and reports, which you can access at any time.

And because the platform is self-service, you give staff more autonomy over processes like requesting leave, tracking certifications and managing their personal details. That means you get more time back in your day to focus on how to best engage your team and grow your business.

And speaking of growth, our streamlined recruiting platform HIRE helps you attract and select the applicants your company needs to level up. Then, we help you engage and retain new hires with a fuss-free onboarding process. All this while helping you stay compliant, go paperless and minimise errors.


There’s no minimum number of employees to get started with HRLocker, so no matter how small your team is, we can help you get started and then scale. We offer a Freemium plan, but our HR Essentials and HR Professional plans are the best fit for most small businesses.

Freemium Plan
HR Essentials
HR Professional
to help your business grow

(Up to 4 users)

for your day-to-day HR operations & tasks

(From 15 employees)

for managing your hybrid or remote team

(From 15 employees)

£0 for 6 months£3.50 per employee per month£5.50 per employee per month


“HRLocker is user friendly and not very complicated to use, which has made it easy to roll out to our business. Being able to produce reports has been useful for the HR team, and we can now start looking at data and using it to solve HR problems. The tool allows us to be more efficient.”

Kate O. (HR generalist)


Rippling’s comprehensive HR software helps centralise processes from recruitment to payroll to help you run watertight HR processes. The tool’s workforce management platform helps you automate your workflows, and the software also offers other HR, IT and finance products to complement its core platform.

Rippling global payroll

Rippling is great for teams who need to manage a workforce across multiple countries.
Source: Rippling

Key features

  • Payroll services for global teams
  • Talent management features for recruitment and hiring
  • Time and attendance for time tracking and leave management
  • Learning management to foster employee growth and engagement

The benefits of using Rippling

Rippling can help you centralise and simplify the way you manage numerous HR processes. Many of its features are geared towards global teams, so if you have plans for expanding internationally, it could be a good option for your organisation.

The tool offers a range of functionality, from HR tools like talent management, global payroll and custom workflows, to IT and finance features.


Rippling pricing starts at £7 per month per user. Further pricing information isn’t available on the Rippling website, so you have to contact the company for a quote.

“Now we are connecting a bunch of programs together to make my workflow easier. Rippling puts my HR, payroll, benefits and onboarding all into one place, making my job that much better.”

Brock M. (HR manager)

People HR

People HR is designed with the needs of small and growing businesses in mind, and it can help you better manage processes like leave management, reports and recruitment. The tool also helps you automate those repetitive tasks that currently take so many hours out of your week.

People HR self-service management system

People HR lets employees take tasks into their own hands with a self-service portal.
Source: People HR

Key features

  • HR management software with self-service portal
  • Applicant tracking system (ATS) for streamlined recruiting
  • Time and attendance management
  • Payroll and reporting features

The benefits of using People HR

Because People HR is a comprehensive HR management system, it lets you centralise all your processes under one roof. Plus, the tool helps you automate your HR workflows and reduce your manual tasks, giving you back more time in the day.

It includes HR software essentials like leave management, a self-service portal and recruitment tools, while also providing useful reports that give you insights into how you can improve your business and its processes.


People HR offers three pricing plans:

  • Professional (£5 per employee per month)
  • Enterprise (£7 per employee per month)
  • Elite (£9 per employee per month)

“We use People HR across our group for efficient, collaborative and quick processing of HR data. As a fast-paced growing organisation, it’s essential our time is spent efficiently on our small team. People HR is great for reducing heavy admin burdens.”

Amy D.> (group HR advisor)


Breathe’s core product is its HR software, which is tailored to small and medium businesses. The tool helps you manage your people, track leave and absence and generate reports. Breathe also offers a number of add-ons to complement its core HR tool, including time and attendance, training and courses, expenses management and recruitment tracking.

Breathe recruitment feature

Breathe’s ATS helps streamline the recruitment process.
Source: Breathe

Key features

  • Holiday planning and sick leave management
  • Performance tracking for employee development
  • Recruitment tools for a smoother hiring process
  • HR dashboard with convenient automation features

The benefits of using Breathe 

Breathe’s HR management system lets you consolidate your processes for a smoother daily workload. And on top of simplifying daily tasks, the tool provides an HR database that helps you easily locate employee information and store documents.

Self-service portals encourage employee autonomy, taking pressure off your HR department, as does task automation. And if you decide you need more features, you always have the option to choose add-ons to your package to help you with time and attendance or recruitment.


Breathe’s pricing model varies depending on how many users you have and whether you choose add-on products. For example, a small company with 1-10 employees that just wants the basic Core HR plan would pay £13 per month per account.

You can calculate how much you would pay depending on the size of your company and the features you need on the Breathe website.

“We’ve recently implemented Breathe HR in our business and it has made our HR processes easier to deal with. It’s very easy to navigate and it’s also very simple to book holidays.”

Laura A. (senior systems analyst)


Though the company offers various products related to human resource management, BrightHR’s core software packs many of your HR processes, like leave tracking, payroll and employee development into one tool. You also have the option to add on recruitment features and HR support if needed.

BrightHR time and absence management

You can use BrightHR for all your time management processes, from absence tracking to shift planning. Source: BrightHR

Key features

  • Leave management with late and sickness tracking
  • Unlimited storage space for HR documents
  • Payroll reports that help you calculate accurate wages every time
  • BrightLearn feature for ongoing learning and development

The benefits of using BrightHR

As a people management tool, BrightHR helps simplify and automate tasks like holiday management, sick leave, overtime tracking, shift planning and payroll. So the tool can be especially useful for teams with employees who work hourly shift work.

If you need more from the tool, Bright HR’s People Navigator helps you find and hire the best employees for your open roles. And for HR managers who need a little extra support, BrightHR Lightning offers instant AI support for your most urgent questions.


Pricing information isn’t available on the BrightHR website, so you have to contact the company for a quote. 

“BrightHR is very easy to use, and the dashboard helps you navigate through the platform. If you’re stuck on anything or unsure how to operate the tool, the Bright HR team is always on hand to take your call and support you.”

Kevin B. (HR manager)

Get HR Software for Better Team Engagement and a Lighter Workload

Stressing over compliance and accuracy no longer needs to take up your day.

When you choose an HR software solution that aligns with your business needs and values, you can automate the processes that eat up so much time while ensuring compliance across the board. 

Just remember to prioritise the following features and characteristics when comparing HR platforms:

  • Strong customer service
  • Recruitment and onboarding support
  • Comprehensive compliance management
  • Employee self-service portal
  • Automated TOIL calculations
  • Leave and absence management
  • Continuous Professional Development (CPD)
  • Core values that align with your own

Once you fully integrate the right tool into your operations, you’ll have more time to focus on the impactful tasks that add meaning to your work, like creating a great employee experience and growing your team.


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Free up more time with HRLocker, an all-in-one HR solution to eliminate manual processes and inefficient spreadsheets

Frequently Asked Questions about HR Software for Small UK Businesses

How do you implement HR software in a small business?

There are a few things you need to do to implement software in your small business to ensure its success:

  1. Migrate data: Bring in your employee data from whatever you’re currently using, whether it be Excel or paper-based records. HRLocker does this for you as part of our free implementation service.
  2. Understand the tool: Get a proper onboarding with the tool’s customer support team to understand how to make the most of the platform.
  3. Train employees: Give your employees the support they need to understand the platform and incorporate it into their daily tasks.
  4. Customise the platform: Modify workflows and make adjustments so the software fits the needs of your business.
  5. Monitor usage: Track how much your employees are using the tool to ensure you’re getting value out of it.

What HR software does a small business need?

A small business needs HR software that can automate and simplify essential HR processes. Plus, a small business needs a self-service, customisable solution with a centralised employee database, as well as a strong customer support team that can get them up to speed with the platform.

What’s the best way to calculate and manage time off in lieu (TOIL)?

The best way to calculate and manage TOIL is with a specialised HR tool. For example, HRLocker automatically calculates and allocates employees’ TOIL so you don’t have to manually sort through logged hours and leave calendars.

Smart People Management: Top 5 HR Software Solutions for Small UK Businesses was last modified: March 6th, 2024 by Beatriz Araujo

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