Paper Trails

Payroll Service Comparison: Gusto vs UKG vs Paper Trails

Payroll Service Comparison: Gusto vs UKG vs isolved

There is a lot to consider when running and growing a business, but paying your employees must be at the top of the list. Businesses must decide whether or not they have the capability to run payroll in-house or if they need to outsource this process. When a business decides to outsource their payroll to a third party vendor, there is no shortage of options available. A few of the more popular payroll vendors for small businesses include Gusto, UKG and isolved. In this article, we will provide a payroll service comparison of Gusto, UKG and isolved.

What is a third party payroll service provider?

First, let’s establish what a payroll vendor does. A payroll vendor takes on the entire responsibility of paying a business’ employees. Typically, through automated software, a vendor will:

Additionally, some payroll vendors can provide additional services to businesses. These services can include:

What is Gusto?

Gusto is a cloud-based software platform for payroll, HR, and benefits management. Based in San Francisco, Gusto’s core belief is that small businesses have been underserved, and their manual payrolls and tax compliance can be fraught with errors and complications.

Gusto’s Strengths

  • Quick and easy setup, usually within 30 minutes.
  • Integrated, easy-to-use platform that is straightforward and intuitive.
  • AutoPilot feature for automatic payroll runs.
  • Ability to electronically file, sign, fax, and store all tax documents within the Gusto dashboard.
  • Employees have the flexibility to choose their own pay schedules and get paid when they want.
  • Gusto Cashout feature means a portion of the accrued wages can be requested by employees between paydays.
  • Paperless self-boarding process with e-signing options and I-9 and W-4 storage.
  • Enable companies to create a competitive package with expert guidance and help with add-ons such as 401(k), life insurance and commuter benefits.

Gusto’s Weaknesses

Human Resources

  • Limited HR Value, better for payroll processing.
  • Employee self-service and reporting features are not supported.

Customer Service

  • Questionable customer service quality.
  • Whereas many HR software competitors have live 24/7 support, Gusto offers email, chat, and limited phone support but only during short timeframes.
  • The $149/month Concierge plan includes help from HR pros but also only during limited business hours.


  • Gusto does not branch out its’ non-payroll HR functions, so the customer has to pay for payroll features whether they need them or not.
  • Most of the HR functions such as workers’ compensation coverage, require use of its’ payroll service, rendering these features useless in themselves.

Applicant Tracking System

  • Lack of Talent Acquisition features.
  • Gusto’s support starts with the job offer letter, so another strategy may be needed throughout the recruiting process.

Performance Management

  • Lack of performance tracking, goal-setting, reviews and feedback features.

Gusto’s Pricing

Currently, Gusto’s basic pricing looks like this:


Automatic payroll and benefits integration

$40/month plus $6/month per person


Payroll, benefits and HR tools

$80/month plus $12/month per person

*Additional $8/month per person for HR support and service

What is UKG?

UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group) is a result of a merger between Kronos and Ultimate Software in April 2020. With main offices located in Florida and Massachusetts, UKG serves companies across 165 countries.

UKG’s Strengths

  • Large and financially solvent.
  • Increased market share with merger.
  • Single platform for Payroll, HR, Time and Attendance.
  • Enterprise focused.
  • International capability.
  • Strong applicant tracking system features: knock out questions, different recruiting processes, featured opportunities.
  • Configurable benefits enrollment workflows based on the organization’s plans and policies.
  • Personalized dashboard and reporting capabilities.
  • Free training for life.

UKG’s Weaknesses

  • Slower implementation time.
  • Higher implementation cost.
  • Support case response has slowed since UKG has expanded.
  • Below average for its’ learning management capabilities.
  • Newly realized market share and scope of solutions from the merger.
  • Branding isn’t fully UKG: their website takes you to 4 different websites: UKG, Kronos, Ultimate Software, Everything Benefits.

UKG’s Pricing

UKG’s pricing looks like this:

Activation fee of $22,000 to $30,000 based on 250 employees and specific pricing on scope of work.


Core payroll and benefits integration

$18/month per person

Core Platform

Core plus: Recruiting, Onboarding, Talent Management, Compensation Management, Learning Management, Employee Sentiment Analysis Surveys

$40/month per person

What is isolved?

isolved is a dynamic HR platform that Paper Trails uses to provide people-first human capital management and payroll services. This platform assists Paper Trails and its’ clients in automating human resource tasks to help employers manage employees. Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, isolved is a leading software provider for small-to-midsized companies, serving 5 million employees and 145,000+ employers.

isolved’s Strengths

  • Caters to small and medium sized businesses, predominantly companies with less than 250 employees.
  • Attract & Hire is robust, allowing for faster application process and a very user friendly experience for hiring managers and HR personnel.
  • Well-integrated payroll and time and attendance features.
  • Versatile Benefits Administration software and services helps companies streamline their benefit frameworks and ensure successful IRS and DOL audits.
  • Learn & Grow is a comprehensive learning management system with courses, user instructions, guides and video tutorials. This allows for self-paced, on-demand learning reducing the burden on managers for training and education.
  • People Services provides comprehensive service packages to make organizations of all sizes and across all industries more productive.
  • Expense Management helps eliminate the frustrating workload of managing expenses, reimbursing employees, and creating reports.
  • Share & Perform is a full-service engagement and performance management platform with features including employee portal intranet, collaboration, rewards and recognition, performance management with goal setting and reviews.
  • Strong mobile friendly employee self-service portal. Allows employees to manage their payroll and HR needs including updating direct deposit information, printing paystubs and W2’s, clocking in and out, requesting time off, enrolling in benefits, submitting expense reimbursements, and more!

isolved’s Weaknesses

  • Does not offer a free trial.
  • Pricing structure is not as transparent.
  • Currently no international capabilities.
  • More small business and mid-market focused, as opposed to large business or enterprise focused.
  • Being a budding player on the HCM scene, brand awareness is less than some competitors.

isolved’s Pricing

At Paper Trails, we tailor pricing based on your specific business needs. Fore more information about our pricing, check out our pricing page here.