Gusto used to be called ZenPayroll but changed the name a few years back as they started adding more features into the fold. These days, Gusto might still be best known for being an online payroll solution. But they also offer a full suite of HR tools from their concierge service to processing employee health benefits, hiring, and firing.
It plugs in with programs like QuickBooks or Xero and aims to simplify the HR and payroll process for small and medium-sized businesses. But what about using Gusto for expense management?
Unfortunately, not exactly. Gusto offers a ton of resources for HR and payroll. You can use the tool to administer benefits—and even let employees choose their own healthcare plan. You can process payments and ditch the paperwork associated with things like healthcare and tax withholdings. Still, there’s defintiely some hope for new features in the future. Gusto’s founder has big plans for all things workplace.
Below, we’ll look at Gusto—both for expense management and beyond. We’ll also look at the integrations, the pricing, and why it may well be worth a try.
So, What is Gusto?
Gusto is a piece of cloud-based software that plugs into just about any accounting tool you’re already using. Think QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Xero. Your banking apps and time tracking apps like TSheets or expense tracking apps like Expensify.
That said, the main purpose of Gusto is to automate and modernize the bureaucratic side of any business. It works to make things easier for HR or for small businesses that don’t have a dedicated HR department. You can use the software to send offer letters, process payroll, and pay for worker’s comp insurance.
Gusto has a friendly user interface, one that’s easy to navigate and that works well with other tools. You don’t need to be an accounting pro to use Gusto. Users have reported the tool is easy to understand and has helped streamline everything from hiring and onboarding to figuring out retirement planning.
Makes the HR Process Easier and More Appealing
Let’s face it; you probably didn’t start a business because you have a passion for paperwork. But, payroll needs to be processed, and you may need to offer benefits or face an ACA penalty. Gusto’s straightforward interface makes all of the boring stuff more accessible to business owners of all stripes.
According to Gusto’s website, customers reported saving up to two hours of work each time they onboard a new employee. And over 70% of users reported the software helped them stay in compliance. We get that these facts and figures may point toward a bias, but we’re intrigued.
Some of the key benefits associated with Gusto:
Tons of Integrations
We mentioned that Gusto is compatible with a ton of accounting tools. You can use it with QuickBooks, Xero, and more. The other benefit is, it also plugs into your expense managing tools. The site only mentions Expensiify and Receipt bank, so we’ll go ahead and assume that’s the extent of the expense management plug-in offerings. Still, QB handles this functionality, plus all of the other accounting stuff, so in our opinion, it may be best just to go ahead and buy the one tool and add Gusto to the mix.
Still, if you’re looking for in-depth expense management Expensify is a freemium tool that promises expense reports that don’t suck. The tool handles everything from reimbursement to documenting everything you need to pass an audit with flying colors.
Receipt Bank offers something similar—you take pictures of your receipts from your, and the tool generates reports and makes it easier to collect expenses and turn them into invoices and track tax write-offs and employee expenses. Receipt Bank costs an additional $25-$55 per month, depending on your plan, so keep that in mind if you’re looking at multiple tools.
Manage Team Documents
Gusto offers document management for businesses. This includes things like garnishments, deductions, healthcare enrollment, employee and contractor profiles, and tax info. It was all in one place and kept safely in the cloud.
The benefit here is, once you set up your Gusto account, you don’t need to keep all of these items in the file cabinet. It’s much easier to stay organized.
Access to HR Professionals without Hiring a New Person
Upgrading to the Concierge plan means you get access to HR experts who you can call any time for advice. You’ll also receive alerts and HR guides that help you avoid fines and stay in compliance with the latest laws. You can go over things like hiring best practices, how to conduct performance evaluations, and how to prevent harassment, among other topics.
While the goal of this review is looking at Gusto for expense management, it doesn’t actually manage expenses in the traditional sense. You can pay extra to incorporate tools like QuickBooks or Expensify, but the product mainly focuses on HR and payroll.
Here’s a look at what you’ll get with Gusto:
Gusto also offers a retirement planning service and has teamed up with Guideline to support those plans. Participating companies pay just $8 per employee per month and can match contributions through Gusto if they’d like. Either way, employees can choose how much they’d like to contribute to their future and update the amounts within the employee profile.
Gusto’s real bread and butter, the payroll processing function simplifies your filings and withholdings. Up front, you’ll need to supply some basic information like EIN, your bank account, employee details and payment preferences, and tax documents. You can upload the employee information yourself or invite them to fill in their own information.
If you want to include pre-tax benefits along with your payroll, you’ll need to provide more info to get started. Same goes for other elements that affect the paycheck like reimbursements like travel expenses or wage garnishments.
Gusto excels in speeding up the payroll process. You’ll store all salary information and notes about employees directly in the portal. From there, each time you process payroll, you’ll make any adjustments—enter hours, tips, commissions, or reimbursements.
As far as payments go, you have the option to print paper checks or approve direct deposits from the app.
Health Benefits Administration
Gusto comes with a built-in benefits advisor who can provide recommendations to employers. They’ll help you find a plan that works with your budget, accounting for employee salaries and the size of your business.
The Gusto service is compliant with the Affordable Care Act and stores information in compliance with HIPAA laws. Benefits are available in 19 states:
- New Jersey
- New York
No word on whether the benefits feature is coming to more states shortly.
Benefits are offered through brokers–which may vary by region. The website mentions some of the bigger names in health insurance; Aetna, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and so on. So, you’ll end up paying the agency through Gusto, with your monthly fees covering the processing and set up.
You’ll need to get the ball rolling on your own, but you can invite new employees to enter their information when they join the team. Once they’re in, you can have employees update their payment preferences, upload their tax documents, and select health coverage.
Furthermore, Gusto sends out reminders for open enrollment, with a countdown. Medical, vision, dental, and retirement benefits are all selected in the app—plus employees get access to all records after they part ways with the company.
Get Your Own HR Pro
Not all plans include an expert’s advice, but if you shell out for the concierge program, you can quickly send a message or make a quick call to see what you need to do. HR reps are SHRM and HRCI-certified and can provide templates for things like hiring best practices, offer letters, termination requirements, and how to avoid fines.
Ultimately, it seems like a pretty good deal for a little bit of HR expertise here and there.
Gusto’s pricing is based on the features you need. New users get a one-month free trial and are able to choose from one of three plans. Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll get with each:
Core, $39 monthly base, plus $6 per month per person
The entry-level plan, Core offers payroll processing, healthcare administration, worker’s comp administration, employee self-service, and customer support.
Complete, $39 monthly base, plus $12 per month per person
The complete plan builds on the core, adding a few more features. You’ll now gain access to employee offers and onboarding, employee directory and surveys, as well as paid time-off requests.
Concierge, $149 per month base, plus $12 per month per person
The concierge plan comes with the same set of benefits you’ll get with the complete plan, plus access to the HR resource center and help from certified HR pros.
The benefit here is, you’ll have HR experts at your fingertips, which can help keep you in compliance—no need to worry about OSHA violations or lawsuits. The HR reps can answer questions you may have about things like unpaid interns or how to avoid ACA penalties. Not every company will want to shell out for this, but it’s a lot cheaper than hiring a dedicated HR person.
Beyond the cost of signing up for a plan, you’ll need to consider that adding extra benefits will cost you in some cases. So, 401(k) plans will come with a $500 set up fee (for the full program) and will cost $8 per month per person. Health benefits do not come with any additional charges, and you’ll pay only for the premiums. Same goes for worker’s comp.
Gusto doesn’t require much from users–aside from information. The tool is cloud-based, so it works on any device that connects to the web. For best results, you’ll want to update your browser. Additionally, you may need a scanner to upload your records, if they’re not already online.
In looking at Gusto, there’s a lot to like. The site presents information clearly—showcasing the benefits of what you’ll get if you decide to use the tool for your payroll/HR needs.
While not all plans actually come with the sage advice of a certified HR pro, the company does offer customer support to all users. Additionally, the site is loaded up with plenty of videos and short explanations for each feature.
The site also features a blog, as well as a “framework” section, that looks at best practices and how-to set up benefits, payroll, and more. The website offers a lot of information all in a friendly, approachable tone.
What’s the Verdict on Gusto for Expense Tracking?
If you’re looking for an expense tracking tool, Gusto isn’t exactly the place to get started. Yes, Gusto plays nice with the tools that do track expenses—whether you’re looking at a full-fledged accounting software or an expense-specific add-on like Xpensify.
That said, if expense tracking is your primary concern, you may want to look into a tool that handles this functionality before diving into a tool that was built for a whole other set of offerings.
Now, Gusto is a valuable tool for a long list of reasons—one it’s very easy, and it cooperates with your other accounting tools. Second, the software automates many of the tasks that small business owners don’t want to bother with. If you started a business, chances are, you don’t want to spend your days building employee handbooks or processing payroll.
The automated payment processing and access to HR experts make Gusto a worthwhile investment for any small business looking to compete with the big guys. While some past users have complained that the tool seems slow at times, it sure beats doing your HR tasks on a manual basis.
Based on the information we’ve gathered, Gusto seems to be a time-saving tool innovating the space. The thing is; it’s just not a dedicated expense tracker.