Best Payroll Service for Creative Agencies - Grow Your Agency Group

The Best Payroll Service for Creative Agencies

The Best Payroll Service for Creative Agencies

Managing payroll can be a headache. I’ve worked with a few different local payroll services before moving to a cloud-based service. What’s really nice about using a service like Gusto (or Rippling) is that you can put the power to adjust benefits, make time-off requests, get reimbursements, and more in the hands of your employees. This cuts way down on your admin work.

Cloud payroll services make it easy (or easier) to manage remote employees and contractors that are out-of-state or in other countries. In my research Gusto and Rippling are the best positioned for agencies, but I’d be curious to hear what you think. See the feature comparison below.

Most of the agencies in my Agency Slack Group use Gusto.

Why Payroll can be a Major Pain for Creative Agencies

Creative agencies often face unique challenges when it comes to managing payroll and benefits. We’ve got freelance contracts, out-of-state employees, international employees, usually a mix of full-time, part-time, and everything in-between. Not to mention billable hours tracking, PTO tracking, employees in various time-zones, various tax regulations, HR laws to adhere to (and a whole lot more annoying things). It can be a real PITA! And most agencies are not large enough to employ a HR department to manage all this stuff, so it falls on the Agency Owner’s shoulders.

Payroll in the Cloud

Cloud-based payroll services have revolutionized the way companies manage their employee payments. What I like most about this is how much control you can give your employees. With Gusto my employees can track time, request reimbursements, check PTO hours, change benefits, and more without ever tapping me on the shoulder. It saves me a ton of time.

The Major Contenders: Rippling vs. Gusto at a Glance

While Gusto, has the most muscle in the Agency space, Rippling is a good one to keep an eye on. Both services cover essential payroll functions but differ in their approach and additional features.


Rippling offers a broad range of services, including payroll, benefits administration, and employee management. It also boasts integrates well with various software tools, making it a versatile choice for creative agencies. Rippling is unique in that it offers IT management features, and I’m pretty sure that it’s roadmap includes a lot of what Gusto already offers.


Gusto is consistently praised for its user-friendly interface and excellent customer support. Gusto provides payroll, benefits, and HR services, focusing on simplicity and ease of use. It aims to make payroll management as straightforward as possible, which is ideal for creative agencies looking for a hassle-free solution. It also has been consistently rolling out features over the last few years. Particularly HR features like Handbook management, employee onboarding, and employee review management.

User Interface and Experience

The user interface and overall experience of using each platform play a crucial role in their effectiveness and adoption by your team.

Rippling’s interface is designed to be powerful yet flexible, offering extensive customization options. However, it may require a bit of a learning curve for new users.

GustoGusto’s interface is celebrated for its simplicity and ease of use, making it accessible even to those with minimal payroll experience. Its clear design and intuitive layout make managing payroll a breeze.

Considering how user-friendly a platform is can save you time and increase productivity.

Customer Support

Reliable customer support is vital for resolving issues promptly and ensuring smooth payroll operations.

Rippling offers customer support via email and live chat. Their support team is knowledgeable, but response times can vary.

Gusto is known for its excellent customer support, providing help through phone, email, and live chat. Their support team is responsive and highly rated by users.

Strong customer support ensures that any challenges you encounter are swiftly addressed, minimizing disruptions to your payroll processes.

Pricing Comparison

Understanding the pricing structures of Rippling and Gusto can help you determine which service offers the best value for your budget.


Rippling’s pricing is based on a per-user model, starting at $8 per employee.

Gusto offers straightforward pricing with a base fee of $40 per month and starting at $6 per-employee.

Why I Recommend Gusto for Creative Agencies

After looking into both Rippling and Gusto, I recommend Gusto for most creative agencies. Here’s why:

  • Gusto’s User-Friendly Interface Saves Time
  • Gusto Really Does try to Make the HR Headaches Go Away (Even if they don’t always succed)
  • Employees Like Using It
  • Gusto Has Great Customer Support

Taking the Next Step with Gusto

Ready to make the switch? I thought switching from our local payroll provider was going to be a total pain. But the Gusto support folks we worked with di all the heavy lifting.

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