Namely vs Zenefits: Comparing Key Features and Functionality

All businesses need an effective way to manage their employees. Human resource management systems (HRMSs) are designed to make onboarding, managing, paying and administering benefits to employees much easier.

Two popular HRMS solutions are Zenefits and Namely. Here, we’ll give you an overview of each solution, let you know how they stack up against each other and leave you with the takeaways you need to make an informed decision on which one is right for you.

Product Overview

Namely: Since 2012, Namely has been providing modern HR management, payroll, benefits administration, and talent management for customers through its easy-to-learn, intuitive interface. In our Namely HRMS review, we singled it out for its elegant design and built-in payroll automation.

The Namely HRMS suite has four distinct components:

  • Modern HR – HR management and employee tracking including profiles, org charts, vacation tracking, reporting, calendars, a social interface and document storage
  • Payroll – Enrollment, taxation, compliance, reporting and time management
  • Benefits – Health, dental, and vision insurance, ancillary care plans and benefits, document distribution and benefits administration
  • Talent – Performance, feedback, employee objectives, cascading goals, peer review and competencies

Namely’s biggest shortcoming was in the talent management area. Review creation was cumbersome, which made sharing feedback difficult. This could make participants less willing to offer it.

Overall, the solution is effective for managing your team as it scales.

Zenefits: Zenefits is a well-known HRMS solution. As stated in our review, the integration between all the different areas of the software made navigation, administration and employee management fast and easy.

The main features of Zenefits include:

  • An online dashboard bringing all the key functionality together into one place
  • Self-service capabilities allowing managers and employees to manage their own HR details and administration
  • Onboarding and enrollment to get new employees up and running quickly
  • Reporting and analytics for an at-a-glance view of key workforce metrics
  • Attendance, vacation, paid time off, and benefits administration and tracking
  • Payroll administration and taxation
  • Learning management to keep employees properly trained in essential skills

Most issues with Zenefits were related to support. Support and implementation of the system could be delayed, and support staff was sometimes hard to reach. Overall, we thought Zenefits was a robust tool for most HR needs.

How Do Zenefits and Namely Stack Up?

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Zenefits and Namely so you can decide which one best suits your business needs.

Talent Management

Talent management is beneficial for businesses looking to streamline their performance review, goal setting and succession planning processes.

Zenefits: Zenefits has recently added on a performance management module to its portfolio. It includes administrative tools and a variety of pre-built review templates (for example, self evaluations or 360-degree reviews). Managers and employees can access performance reviews from any device. Note that the performance management module is an add-on product that costs an additional $4 per employee per month.

Namely: Namely has talent management features, including goals, employee objectives, performance tracking, review cycles, performance monitoring, talent reporting and employee feedback. However, as we identified in our Namely review, its talent management can be difficult to use.

Bottom Line: While Zenefits provides a performance management module, it doesn’t offer additional talent management features, such as succession planning.

HRMS Integrations

In the world of online software, integration is becoming more important. Integrated programs can significantly reduce the time you spend on administration, remove human error, and ensure the latest information is available when and where you need it. Namely and Zenefits both integrate with different software and applications.

Zenefits: Zenefits works with a large range of software, including Slack, Salesforce, Google Apps/G Suite, Asana, Box, Xero, QuickBooks, MS Office, Zapier, Expensify and Bitium.

Namely: Namely works with specialized HR apps, applicant tracking tools and time sheets, but doesn’t support the range of general business apps that Zenefits does. You can use Namely’s API to build custom integrations.

Bottom Line: If you use common online apps, integration can significantly lighten the load of administration. Although Zenefits currently integrates with a wider range of common online apps, Namely does provide a number of specialized integrations with other HR solutions.

Employee Self-Service

One way to empower employees is to give them access to all of their HR details. An HRMS centralizes all of their employee data, putting them in control of checking profile information, tracking their performance and accessing benefits and payroll details.

Zenefits: Zenefits provides comprehensive self-service capabilities. Employees can log into the system and request time off, check their pay stubs and update their benefits elections.

Namely: Namely has employee self-service features, such as custom profiles and online time tracking.

Bottom Line: Employee self-service can reduce your administrative overhead, but it does also mean devolving some of the centralized HR checks out to your employees. If that’s not an issue, then both Namely and Zenefits provide self-service options, with Zenefits providing a more robust self-service solution.

Managed Services

If you’re a small business without an HR department, or you simply want to outsource parts of your HR management, you can do so using HR managed services. These are services like talent acquisition, benefits administration, onboarding and payroll.

Namely: Namely provides a complete range of managed services including administration, payroll, benefits, tax registration and employment verification.

Zenefits: Zenefits doesn’t really provide managed services, although it does give customers access to a wide range of benefits providers, mainly in the health insurance space.

Bottom Line: If you don’t have your own HR department, managed services could be of great benefit to you. If that’s the case, Namely has a full suite of services. If you already have an HR department, or are a small business that doesn’t need a complete HR area, Zenefits’ lack of managed services shouldn’t be a concern.


Both Zenefits and Namely provide excellent features and functionality for all the standard HR areas — onboarding, payroll, reporting, vacation tracking, time sheets and benefits administration. Both solutions are well designed, have effective mobile applications, can be learned quickly and provide access to all the basic HR tools necessary to grow your business.

Before you decide on an HRMS, you should consider your business’ the current size and how you see it growing. If you don’t want the headache of running your own HR department, Namely’s managed services are a good option. If you already have an HR department, or are a small business that doesn’t need one yet, Zenefits provides the functionality you need.

If you need more information on HRMS solutions in general, our HRMS Definitive Guide can help. In it, we discuss benefits, features and what to look for when purchasing a solution.

If you’re looking for alternatives to either system, head over to our Reviews page for detailed reviews on various HRMS solutions.

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