Is Free HR Software worth your time and attention?

Interesting insights that explore the Highs and Lows of choosing free HR Software for managing people processes

While jumping at anything labeled “Free” is a hallmark of human existence, the *Terms and Conditions attached to the freebies never go out of picture.

Free HR Software is definitely a wiser choice over spreadsheets that are messy and non-dynamic.

But it pays to evaluate these free versions before investing your valuable time and money, especially if you are a startup or small-medium enterprise.

The dependence of Human Resources function on such tech-savvy HR solutions has seen an exponential surge over the years. Here are some reasons that turned the tide:

  • Companies are ready to play the consolidation game by having 3-4 different HR applications (For instance, Payroll, Recruitment, Learning etc.). Only a frugal 13% of organizations rely on single HR system (Source:
  • Organizations are liking the cloud based HR Software as they easy to buy, install and do not involve upgrade hassles
  • Companies have realized the potential of using advanced HRMS/HRIS technology solution that allow for integrated talent analytics and Big Data
  • HR Software is easily replaceable with hundreds of vendors available in the market. Switching is not a tough task anymore.
  • Company founders and CEOs have become more committed to Talent practices by shelling out more money for tech tools

So where does the term “Free” fit in the scheme of choosing HR Software?

Free implies one of the following things when you consider various options that flood the HR Software market.

1) It implies “free” trial that lets you use full or limited features of a product for a fixed period (usually 14/15/30 days). This free trial helps companies gauge whether the software is suited to their needs or not;

2) It involves “free” demo that lets users watch a pre-recorded walkthrough videos/storyboards or enables to click and view different functionalities based on dummy data;

3) It has a “free” version that allows users to do simple data keeping and analysis. For mapping complex relationships, advanced features and analysis users have to buy a “paid/premium” version;

4) It is fully functional “free” software available over cloud as open source entity that requires installation by a tech expert who knows computer networks and servers. Such community driven options though free involve paid-support and training;

5) It provides “free” features with a limit on the number of users or data storage.

Free HR Software – Why does it appeal to SMEs and Startups?

There is no doubt to the fact that paid and licensed HR Software makes more sense for companies who have large setups with considerable employee numbers.

The free offerings appeal and make difference to firms with basic HR processes and manageable employee data – typically your small and medium businesses.

The free versions have their own set of takers as they:

  • Give a huge cost advantage with no immediate investments for installation and maintenance
  • Help business owners weigh all their options at no/minimal cost before they zero down on the final choice
  • Allow in-house HR to enlist active and committed vendor support owing to the highly competitive software market
  • Get data efficiency and integration advantage necessary to scale up company operations
  • Make things automated and self-served for the organization. 94% of all HR software provides a built-in self-service portal for employees (Source: Technology

Few Vendors who are acing the “Free” Trend


Is Free HR Software worth your time and attention?

The name says it all. The UK based company does a pretty decent job of conjuring up web-based HRIS and reports (not much on payroll & recruiting) without any cap on users, duration or data capacity. However, it endorses paid support, training and custom features

Orange HRM

Is Free HR Software worth your time and attention?

The Company provides free source code version that can be hosted by the clients themselves. Tailored modules and Plugins come at a fee.


Is Free HR Software worth your time and attention?

It provides cloud based HRMS tool and is quite popular as it packs aesthetics of a paid software suite in a free version. It covers almost all HR Functions from recruitment to performance appraisal, time tracking and employee self-service. A word of caution: The interface can be bit overbearing with the high-end modules and complex features


Is Free HR Software worth your time and attention?

The HR system offers its core services free and covers almost everything under the purview of employee management. It charges for optional paid modules and if you let their software service manage your benefits

Zoho People and Sleekr

Is Free HR Software worth your time and attention?

Both these HR software systems allow free access up to 5 users making them a good choice for small or freelance startups. The user interface is polished and mobile responsive, perfect for modern day users. The free versions of course come with limit on features, data storage and users.


Is Free HR Software worth your time and attention?

The software is targeted towards the SME business and offers appealing interface to cover range of HR areas including travel, employee benefits, task and information reporting. The paid version allows for additional modules and functionality.


Is Free HR Software worth your time and attention? human resources, HRIS, HRMS, spreadsheets, HR solutions, try CAKE HR free for 30 days

The software is the easiest way to increase the workplace efficiency with its feature rich employee self-service and online leave management portal. Try CakeHR free for 30 days before you sign up to enjoy their paid benefits.

There are host of other HR software like Bitrix24, NaturalHR,, Apptivo, Jorani, Odoo, Waypoint HR that are worthy of mention and can be added to the comparison list.

Each has its own set of pros/cons and the buyer has to do a trade-off of features viz-av-viz pricing.

Quick Tip: Too much of “free” has to be closely reviewed as it may imply limited functionality, lackluster UI, compromising quality, restricted/no tech support with questionable server security!

The case for free software whether on cloud or otherwise is gaining momentum, all thanks to the flexibility and cost advantage that comes along with it.

It may be completely or partially free, but it sure is an affordable option for CEOs in charge of startups and SMEs.

The idea is making your system efficient without putting all your eggs in one basket.


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Written By

Mitalee Chhatre

Mitalee, a true professional with over 5 years of corporate experience in Human Resources and Health Sector. Contributor on CakeHR where tracks the newest trends and practices of the work-life world.