Paycor vs. ADP Workforce Now: Which is right for your needs?

If you’ve been looking for an HR software solution for your business, you’ve probably come across both Paycor and ADP Workforce Now. Both are extremely popular tools for payroll processing, benefits administration, and general HR management, but they’re not the same.

For one, ADP Workforce Now is an all-in-one HCM (human capital management) system, meaning that HR departments can manage their entire workforce from a single dashboard. Payroll is bundled with HR and compliance features with ADP, even in its more basic pricing plans.

While Paycor can also serve as an HCM, only its premium plans include features besides payroll management. To enjoy features such as onboarding, applicant tracking, and HR analytics, you need to at least sign up for Paycor’s Core plan, which is on the pricier side.

Yet, Paycor’s basic package is perfect for small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) needing effective and user-friendly payroll software. On the other hand, ADP Workforce Now tends to work best for larger companies that want an all-inclusive HR software solution. Which one you wind up choosing will come down to your organizational needs.

Are you after simple payroll and tax compliance features, or do you want an HR platform capable of handling time tracking, recruiting, benefits management, and more?

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Also, some would argue that Paycor’s HCM features rival or even surpass ADP’s despite having to spring for a pricier plan to use them all. That’s why I’m here to help you discover which HR platform is right for your needs. Read on to learn more about Paycor vs. ADP.

What’s Paycor?

Paycor is one of the most popular payroll software solutions today, especially among SMBs. It’s also an HCM, meaning that it blends payroll with other human resources features, such as onboarding new hires, administering employee benefits, employee recordkeeping, and talent management.

Paycor has also been around for quite a while, as Bob Coughlin founded the company 30+ years ago in 1990. Ironically, Coughlin was a former employee of ADP, where he sold payroll services in Cincinnati. Despite humble beginnings, Paycor blossomed into a $200 million HR software company, and they’re the payroll provider of choice for many small businesses.

What makes Paycor unique is its series of payroll features for niche industries, something you won’t find with any of ADP’s solutions. Using Paycor, you can easily set up and run payroll for nonprofits, manufacturing, and healthcare organizations — all of which have unique payroll needs that Paycor accommodates.

They offer white-glove software setups, meaning they’ll work with you to determine the payroll features you need the most and then provide a customized solution. While Paycor’s interface can initially seem a bit complicated, it’s clean and intuitive enough to get used to quickly. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be paying employees, managing workflows, and efficiently recruiting new hires. Plenty of built-in prompts add to the user-friendliness, as they point out features and functionalities you may not have known about otherwise.

Lastly, there are guided tutorials to help you if you get stumped, and Paycor features responsive customer support.

What’s ADP Workforce Now?

ADP Workforce Now is an all-in-one cloud-based HCM software capable of managing an entire workforce in one location. It’s one of the many HR software products offered by ADP, and it’s most popular among larger companies and enterprises.

For smaller companies in need of basic payroll and HR features, the company offers RUN Powered by ADP. It’s a condensed version of its HR software that primarily focuses on payroll instead of total workforce management.

ADP Workforce Now is a comprehensive HR software suite whose key features include the following:

  • Extensive reporting and data analytics

  • Storing all employee data in one location

  • Payroll management

  • Benefits administration

  • Time tracking

  • Recruitment

  • Onboarding and offboarding

  • Talent management

ADP also integrates with popular third-party tools, including accounting software, onboarding tools, learning management systems, collaboration tools, POS systems, and more. ADP Workforce Now is a leading choice for larger companies looking for an all-inclusive HR solution, but it may be a bit too expensive/in-depth for smaller businesses.

Compliance is another useful feature, as ADP boasts deep expertise in compliance and enterprise-level security and privacy practices. Currently, ADP Workforce Now is the HR system of choice for more than 90,000 companies — making it one of the most widely adopted HR platforms in the world.

Paycor vs. ADP Workforce Now: A direct comparison

Now that you’re more familiar with both platforms, it’s time to see how they stack up against each other.

Here are the main features I’ll be comparing from both programs:

  • Payroll

  • Reporting & Analytics

  • Talent Management

  • General HR & Compliance

  • Pricing

Let’s dive in so you can determine which HR platform is right for you.


First, let’s look at how each platform handles payroll processing. No matter the size of your organization, you’ll have to handle payroll somehow, making it one of the most vital HR tasks.

Also, basic payroll features won’t cut it for every business, especially in niches like healthcare and manufacturing. For this reason, niche industries are better off using Paycor for its additional payroll capabilities.

Paycor payroll

Paycor is most well-known for its payroll processing, so it goes without saying that it’s one of the platform’s most impressive capabilities. One stand-out feature is the ability to auto-run payroll on all Paycor membership plans, even its most basic. That’ll save your accounting team from having to sift through mountains of payroll paperwork every two weeks, which is definitely a plus.

Another cool perk is Paycor’s on-demand pay, which enables you to pay employees as they earn money instead of waiting for the traditional biweekly or monthly pay dates. That way, you’ll be able to quickly pay employees should they run into an emergency and need funds before their next payday.

The Paycor Wallet provides a secure central location for accessing debit/credit card information, earned wages, direct bill pay, budgeting tools, and more – saving you the trouble of having to switch between tools.

Paycor’s other payroll features include:

  • Unlimited payroll runs

  • Auto-run payroll

  • Check stuffing

  • Garnishments

  • State and federal tax filing

  • Time off requests

  • PTO tracking

  • Payroll analytics

  • Pay cards and direct deposits

  • Mobile app

As you can see, Paycor has all the bases covered when it comes to running basic payroll. While some other systems have more advanced features (such as Gusto’s FICA tip credit for restaurants), Paycor is more than enough to handle payroll for most organizations.

That’s not to say Paycor’s payroll doesn’t have its downsides. Despite being a popular choice among SMBs, Paycor is more expensive than other payroll software options. Certain features, like check stuffing, even involve an additional fee.

It’s also a bit lacking in the integrations department, as it doesn’t integrate with Quickbooks and a few other key programs.


  • Unlimited auto payroll runs on all payment plans

  • Can set up payroll for niches like healthcare, manufacturing, and nonprofits

  • Employee self-service portal

  • Can manage payroll from the mobile app


  • Expensive

  • Doesn’t integrate with Quickbooks

ADP Workforce Now payroll

Payroll is one of many modules included with ADP Workforce Now, but thankfully, it’s not downgraded because of that. In fact, ADP boasts robust payroll features on par with other HR systems.

While it doesn’t have niche-specific features like Paycor, it does have the following:

  • Excellent dashboards for executives and the employee self-service portal

  • The ability to view and manage payroll from any device, including smartphones and tablets

  • Automated new hire reports sent to relevant state agencies

  • Federal, state, and local taxes are automatically deducted and electronically filed

  • Built-in error detection, notifications, and alerts

ADP uses a web-based payroll that features real-time gross-to-net calculations that take place before submission. They also have a comprehensive self-service portal where employees can view their W-2s, pay stubs, time and attendance sheets, and more on any device.

ADP’s payroll also pushes analytics to executives and managers for data-driven decisions. For example, the analytics dashboard (when filtered for payroll) provides a quick overview of how your employee payments are distributed. You’ll get to see percentages for the number of employees paid by checks, direct deposit, and manual checks — which will help you better understand how your workforce gets paid. Its dashboards are intuitive and helpful, as the primary payroll dashboard features a to-do list to ensure you don’t miss any crucial tasks.

There are also impressive features for paying international workforces. While not as robust as a program like Deel, ADP still makes it easy for employers to pay employees – regardless of their place of residence. However, some may find the sheer number of reports and features from ADP to be a bit overwhelming, especially at first.

The system can take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of things, you’ll be knocking out payroll with ease.


  • Built-in tax compliance and error detection

  • Excellent self-service portal


  • Some may find the system too complicated

  • The interface can be a bit buggy and fail to save changes

Talent management

Next, let’s take a look at the talent management features offered by Paycor and ADP. Without recruiting and developing a successful workforce, no organization can succeed, which is why solid talent management is a necessity.

ADP Workforce Now talent management

ADP provides embedded access to ZipRecruiter to make finding qualified candidates quicker and easier. HR managers can post jobs directly to ZipRecruiter from ADP, and its smart-matching technology instantly identifies the most qualified candidates for the position. That eliminates numerous cumbersome workflows involved with recruitment, which is definitely a plus for ADP.

To help advertise your job postings even more, you can post straight to social media, complete with pre-populated job details. You also have the option to include things like videos and messages for external and internal candidates.

The Recruitment dashboard features a clean interface that’s easy to use. You’ll be able to see all your open positions in one spot, as well as any new applications that require your attention. It also streamlines the screening and selection process with automated reviews and resume sharing, so you won’t have to spend too much time hunting for a suitable candidate.

To tighten up your recruitment process, ADP provides reporting on your time-to-hire and cost-to-hire, so you’ll always know if there’s room for improvement.

Other talent management features offered by ADP Workforce Now include:

  • Thousands of employee training and development courses on subjects like compliance, DEI (diversity and inclusion), and personal development

  • Employee self-enrollment for training courses

  • Instructor-led, prepackaged, and custom training options

  • Personalized coaching and check-ins for better employee engagement

  • Performance reviews, goal-setting, and employee feedback surveys

All these features make ADP a real powerhouse in the realm of talent management.


  • Embedded access to ZipRecruiter’s smart-match technology

  • Compensation planning

  • Tons of built-in training and development courses


  • The new hire process is only available in Classic View

Paycor talent management

You won’t be able to take advantage of Paycor’s talent management features unless you sign up for the premium HCM plan, which is one of the most expensive. While that’s a noticeable downside, that’s not to say the system doesn’t have some handy and impressive features for recruiting, onboarding, and employee engagement.

With Paycor Recruiting, you can automatically post jobs to ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn. This is undoubtedly handy, but it’s just a shame that it comes at such a high cost, whereas ADP includes recruitment features in all its pricing plans.

A benefit of Paycor Recruiting is that you can set it up according to your specific industry (much like their payroll processing).

Options include:

  • Healthcare

  • Manufacturing

  • Restaurants

  • Professional Services

  • Education

  • Retail

  • Nonprofits

On the employee engagement side, you’ll have performance reviews, surveys, and 360 feedback templates under your toolbelt. Paycor’s onboarding features include E-verify, new hire checklists, I-9 completion, and new hire signatures.

Overall, Paycor’s talent management features pale in comparison to ADP’s. You can get all of Paycor’s recruiting, onboarding, and employee engagement features at a lower price with ADP, and that’s not to mention all the features ADP has that Paycor doesn’t.


  • Automatic job postings to ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor


  • Talent management is only included in the premium HCM suite plan

General HR and compliance

Let’s see how both platforms handle general HR tasks like recordkeeping, policy acknowledgment, reporting, and updating employee status changes. It’s common for HR managers to place more importance on things like payroll and recruitment, but it’s essential to pay attention to general HR management. After all, whenever the IRS or EEOC comes knocking, you’ll want to have all your ducks in a row regarding your employee records.

ADP Workforce Now general HR

ADP’s general HR features are straightforward and effective, with concise dashboards, simple employee profiles, and plenty of tools to measure engagement. The self-service portal shines bright here, as employees can resolve simple HR issues by themselves — saving your HR managers the hassle.

Updating employee records is extremely easy, as one employee profile dashboard compiles all the important information in one spot — including personal, employment, and talent records (i.e., education, training, licenses & certifications, etc.).

New hire templates are preconfigured for full-time, part-time, and international employees.

Besides organizing employee data, security is also essential for HR recordkeeping, and ADP doesn’t disappoint in this area. The company is well known for its industry-leading security protocols, which will keep your employee files safe and secure.

On the employee engagement side, you can build custom feedback surveys from scratch, but there are also helpful survey templates. There is event-based and action-based automation for surveys, such as automatically sending a 60 or 90-day follow-up survey after welcoming a new hire.

ADP will also help you make sense of the results of your feedback surveys, as it provides a detailed analysis of each response, enabling data-driven insights to improve your engagement levels.

Adobe Sign powers ADP Workforce Now’s fillable forms and electronic signatures, which are quick and easy to configure. That means your HR team can draft new policy forms and gather employee signatures quickly.

With its communication broadcast feature, you can also use ADP to send messages to your entire organization. This comes in handy for things like weather alerts, important announcements, or general reminders.


  • Great dashboards for employee profiles & general HR management

  • Customizable, mobile-enabled onboarding experience

  • Effortless recordkeeping with self-service tools


  • Updates can occur at inopportune times

Paycor general HR

Luckily, Paycor includes general HR & compliance features in its more basic pricing plans, and it pretty much includes everything you’d expect from an HRIS (human resources information system).

Like ADP, Paycor provides a singular location for all your employee documents, including resumes, medical documents, tax information, and more.

On the UI front, Paycor’s employee profiles are more colorful and engaging than ADP’s, although they are a tad more convoluted. Where ADP goes for a straightforward, bare-bones approach – Paycor’s dashboards have more visual appeal.

There are templates for checklists, to-do lists, employee handbooks, and training forms.

Another plus is the ability to automate repetitive tasks like updating documents and sending email replies. These features will undoubtedly save your HR team lots of precious time, freeing them up to focus on more pressing tasks.

Unique to Paycor is its Leader Insights dashboard, which provides analytics and metrics that measure the effectiveness of your HR managers. According to Gallup (and as the Paycor website points out), managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement. That means if you want a productive, engaged workforce, you must closely monitor your managers.

Metrics that the Leader Insights dashboard measures include:

  • 1:1’s with employees

  • Performance reviews

  • Recognitions

  • Goal development

  • Motivation

  • Celebrating wins

  • Providing clear direction

These analytics will help you get a clear overview of your management team’s effectiveness and the presence of any weak areas in need of improvement. Paycor’s mobile app is also fantastic in this regard, as HR managers can access and edit all employee data while on the go.


  • Leader Insights dashboard measures the effectiveness of HR managers

  • Automating repetitive tasks


  • One-on-one guidance from certified HR professionals is only available with their premium HCM plan


An HR system can have all the best features in the world, but if it’s out of your price range, it’s all for naught. Bearing that in mind, let’s take a look at the pricing plans offered by Paycor and ADP.

Paycor pricing plans

I’ve already mentioned that Paycor is notorious for being more expensive than other options. Yet, its excellent payroll and general HR features make it worth the money, especially for the Paycor Basic plan.

Here are their different pricing tiers:

  • Paycor Basic. The starting plan costs $99 per month plus an additional $5 per employee (this additional employee cost exists for all pricing plans). Included in this plan are basic yet critical payroll features (including unlimited autoruns), as well as general HR & compliance features like document storage, recordkeeping, and company news.

  • Paycor Essential. The Essential plan kicks things up a notch by providing more features across the board, but it runs at a steep $149 per month plus an additional $7 per employee. PTO tracking and time-off requests unlock at this tier, and you gain access to Paycor’s HR templates (checklists, training, handbooks, etc.) and its onboarding features.

  • Paycor Core. Despite the $199 price tag plus an additional $8 per employee, the Core plan is one of Paycor’s most popular. That’s because of the sheer number of features it includes, in addition to payroll and general HR. This tier unlocks automated workflows, DEI metrics, performance reviews, and a whole host of other HCM features.

  • Paycor Complete. Their most expensive plan still runs at $199 per month but adds an additional $14 per employee. Extra payroll features unlock at this tier, including GL reporting and payroll analytics.

ADP Workforce Now pricing plans

Pricing gets tricky with ADP because the company doesn’t advertise pricing on its website. For this reason, I won’t be able to provide an exact number for each plan, as you’ll have to contact their sales team to develop custom pricing for your organization.

However, here’s a look at the plans they offer:

  • Essential. ADP’s basic plan includes payroll, general HR & compliance, recruiting tools, learning courses, and self-service options, making it a true all-in-one HR solution.

  • Enhanced. This plan tacks on benefits administration features that enable employers to provide numerous benefits (i.e., health, vision, dental, etc.) to employees. The plan also features time-saving technology to streamline the benefits administration process.

  • Premium. Lastly, ADP Workforce Now’s premium plan unlocks automated time tracking and workforce management features.

The Verdict: Paycor vs. ADP

To summarize:

ADP Workforce Now is the best in terms of an all-in-one HCM solution for medium and large organizations. Its talent management features are fantastic, with thousands of built-in training courses and many ways to measure engagement levels.

Paycor reigns supreme in terms of providing payroll and general HR features for smaller organizations. Its Basic plan contains everything an SMB needs to run payroll and manage HR, and its Core plan is worth the money to obtain additional HCM features.