BambooHR vs. Zenefits: Stack Up and Takeaways

BambooHR and Zenefits are cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) HR solutions for storing, retrieving, and managing employee information. The two services strive to be affordable for small businesses. BambooHR offers free trials, and users laud its affordability. Zenefits gives you a demo and prices start at $5 a month.

BambooHR integrates easily with any existing HR software solution, using its open API. Employee performance review functionality on BambooHR fits how most companies are working.

Alongside its HR solutions, Zenefits maintains partnerships with insurance providers across all industries and states in the US. The service positions itself as a plug-and-play solution for small businesses that need to manage their employee health and business insurance coverage.

Comparing the Products

I’ve comprehensively reviewed BambooHR and Zenefits. This post gives you a side-by-side comparison of both HR solutions to help you make an informed buying decision. Below is an excerpt from my reviews of both HR solutions.

BambooHR: BambooHR is a cloud-based HR software solution that targets small and medium-sized companies that do not want spreadsheets. This SaaS solution centralizes employee data storage for easy retrieval of crucial HR information.

The service emphasizes employee self-service and provides an in-depth reporting functionality and a recruiter-friendly applicant tracking system (ATS). BambooHR doesn’t offer a broad range of insurance brokerage solutions like Zenefits; however, it partners with Maxwell Health to help its users manage their health benefits.

Zenefits: Zenefits eliminates paperwork from HR processes, improves HR workflow efficiency, and reduces repetition by centralizing all employee data on the cloud. It connects all human resource services and tools, as well as health insurance management, into one user-friendly dashboard. Zenefits provides a cloud-based hub for HR solutions such as payroll, employee benefits management, time and attendance, and more.

In addition to a robust HR management platform, Zenefit users can manage their insurance benefits, from enrollment to online plans renewal, plans and costs compared to card printing and more. The service has extensive partnerships with insurance providers and covers all 50 states in the US.

Core Differences

1.) Employee Benefits Management

BambooHR: BambooHR users can manage their health benefits using Maxwell Health; they can also integrate third-party solutions over its open API. This SaaS company focuses on core HR solutions, providing a user-friendly dashboard, and easy employee self-onboarding.

Unlike Zenefits, BambooHR doesn’t provide an extensive solution for employee benefits management.

Zenefits: Zenefits offers a robust platform for employee benefits management. It provides health and business insurance brokerage solutions to users.

Zenefits covers all industries in its insurance partnerships. It also has a presence in all 50 states in the US. These positions Zenefits as the plug-and-play solution for managing employee insurance benefits.

Bottomline: BambooHR appears to be more global in its outlook, and have limited their benefits administration to the partnership they have with Maxwell Health. Zenefits have a robust benefits administration network in all 50 states in the US, across all industries.

2.) Implementation

BambooHR: BambooHR implementation is in three easy steps:

  • Import Data: First, import your employee data or move them from an existing HR system.
  • Customize: Setup customizations such as recruiting or termination checklists, email alerts, leave policies, and more.
  • Deploy: Now you can deploy the setup across the whole company.

For implementation support, BambooHR provides webinar and video training for their customers, as well as customized training.

Zenefits: Zenefits works with their clients one-on-one for their launch. You can implement Zenefits by sending your work email and name to their support team. A support representative works with you and remains your primary contact.

Your Zenefits support representative works with you throughout your initial setup phase, launch and training. The support person helps you through occasional account or software maintenance.

Bottomline: BambooHR has automated most of their implementation process, and provided guides and training to help with the finer details of the process. Zenefits maintains a hands-on launch process; a support representative helps a customer and remains a constant point of contact throughout the implementation process.

3.) Features

BambooHR: BambooHR supports global features like multiple currencies and languages. You can set email alerts to remind you of anything, including benefits renewal, employee anniversaries, performance reporting, company events, and more. Businesses using BambooHR can use its performance feedback feature to give frequent updates on employee performance reports.

Using the performance management function, employees can share the details of their goals and action plans, and quickly receive feedback from their peers. Both employees and managers can assess employee performance. BambooHR added new features to their suite of HR solutions, in 2017. Some of the features they introduced include:

  • An improved dashboard, and with new features like notifications, hire widget, goals, and reports,
  • Introduced the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting functionality,
  • Android mobile app,
  • Launched the Payroll functionality,
  • Job applicants email templates for individual and multiple candidates.

As a security feature, BambooHR protects their electronic signatures with enterprise-level encryption and continuously monitor them. Electronic signatures are used to cut time and money costs that HR spends on paperwork.

Zenefits: Just like BambooHR, Zenefits has an online dashboard, self-service portal, employee onboarding, as well as reporting and analytics functionalities. The dashboard enables easy and quick access and retrieval of employee data, as well as streamlining time-consuming HR tasks such as employee onboarding. Some Zenefits features include:

  • Vacation & Paid Time Off (PTO): Businesses can design their own unique PTO policies to match their company culture using the Zenefits dashboard. This feature also makes it easy for employees to report sick days and request time off. Managers can easily track employee PTO and review applications.
  • Benefits Administration: Zenefits simplifies employee benefits management using an online portal. Using their benefits administration solution, you can reduce compliance risks, access resources, and quotes, update information, and more.
  • Security: Zenefits takes security seriously. They use the most advanced encryption standards, like the 256-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to protect their users’ data. For extra security measures, Zenefits keeps their encryption keys and data hosting in different locations; they host their data in secure, remote, cloud-based infrastructure. Besides, Zenefits requires two-factor authentication for authorized personnel to access sensitive information. In fact, trained security personnel physically guard server hosting locations, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year. Zenefits also continually run third-party security tests and internally monitor all their security features.

Bottomline: BambooHR and Zenefits share lots of commonalities in their core HR functions. However, they are different in that Zenefits offers benefits brokerage solutions and seem to have put extra effort into their data and infrastructure security. Another point of difference is that BambooHR provides extensive reporting, from employee peer-to-peer to managers’ feedback, highly customizable email notifications, and more.

Comparing Services and Offerings

Customer Service

BambooHR: BambooHR has a broader range of contact and customer service options. Customers can contact them by phone, email, social media channels and you can even drop in at their office. BambooHR provides community support where users ask questions and shares their knowledge.

Zenefits: Zenefits assigns representatives to companies that choose to manage their benefits administration through them. They also provide a robust online Help Center that covers a broad range of relevant topics. They also offer telephone support.

Bottomline: BambooHR offers a wider range of contact options, and an interactive resource center for users to give and gain help. Apart from its telephone and Help Center options, Zenefits takes a hands-on approach to customer service by assigning support representatives to their clients.


BambooHR: BambooHR offers free trial and demo; it charges users per-employee-per-month. The core modules go for $4 per employee and could reach $8 per employee per month if the company requests add-on features.

Zenefits: Zenefits, until 2017, offered three pricing options, now it’s two. The free choice, Lite HR, has been discontinued amidst controversies that led to the resignation of co-Founder and CEO, Parker Conrad, in early 2016. The Standard and Advanced pricing options are still available.

Zenefits Standard

The Standard billing option goes for $6 per employee per month (or $5 if billed annually); they also charge a $40 base fee monthly. This option covers for:

  • Access to Human Resources platform that offers HR records, organizational charts, hiring and onboarding, employee directory, and mobile app;
  • Business Intelligence tool,
  • Customer forms for managing employee onboarding,
  • Documents app for employee forms and documents storage.

Zenefits Advanced

The Advanced billing option goes for $12 per employee per month (or $9 if billed annually), along with a $40 base monthly charge. This option covers for:

  • All the offers in the Standard option,
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance,
  • HR resource library,
  • Compliance assistance, especially for federal guidelines management and tracking,
  • Time off tracking (vacation & PTO).

Zenefits offers add-ons: Payroll, goes for $4 per user per month; Time and Attendance, $5 per user per month; and HR Advisor, this add-on feature grants customers access to a certified HR expert to help with their HR-related concerns, its priced at $5 per user per month.

Bottomline: BambooHR has a simple pricing plan, one without add-ons and one with add-ons. Zenefits separates add-ons from its core plans, so users can choose to pay for and use each add-on as they need them.


BambooHR and Zenefits have made great strides in providing affordable solutions for their target market — small and medium-sized businesses. Albeit, these cloud-based services have their shortcomings.

BambooHR: BambooHR strictly caters to small and medium-sized businesses. Big businesses or small companies that quickly outgrow the solution may need to look elsewhere. Another flaw in this software is the absence of a learning management system.

Zenefits: Some customers reported missing deadlines for their insurance open enrollment because assigned representatives were hard to reach during implementation. Another shortcoming, customers complained that support representatives who were present during their launch became distant afterward.

Bottomline: As businesses grow beyond the small to mid-size level, they’d have to replace BambooHR. Zenefits hands-on customer service using support representatives is flawed because of its inconsistency. A client who needs urgent attention may be left frustrated due to an absentee representative.

BambooHR vs. Zenefits Takeaways

BambooHR and Zenefits share features such as an online dashboard, Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance, self-service portal, employee onboarding, reporting and analytics functionalities, and more. They have their differences too, for example, Zenefits has a robust benefits management solution, and BambooHR is slim on this.

Regardless of your industry, if you need a plug-and-play benefits management solution that streamlines all HR processes and stores employee data in a central cloud-based suite, Zenefits is it. BambooHR is best for small to mid-sized establishments who want a simplified HR management platform and no spreadsheets.