As a CEO of a time tracking software company, I need to know what my competitors are up to. That means I’m often researching about and/or playing around with their products… you know, it’s part of the job. Here, I share my findings from that research, giving credit to those competitors where credit is due and being honest about which products I believe you really need to avoid. And so, there you have it, this BambooHR review. And in it, I try to be honest, fair, and insightful.
This review covers:
- What Do Users Like About BambooHR?
- What Don’t Users Like About BambooHR?
- What Pricing Plans Does BambooHR Offer?
- What are the Standout Features of BambooHR?
- Selected Positive User Feedback
- Selected Negative User Feedback
- What are BambooHr’s Review Ratings from Review Sites?
- What’s My Final Verdict on BambooHR?
BambooHR is a cloud-based HR management software that claims to be an all-in-one solution for HR data and reporting, hiring and onboarding, payroll, time, and benefits, and employee experience and performance. It promises to save businesses hundreds of hours of HR work and a 40% reduction of HR costs by combining various HR systems in one platform.
These are very lofty aspirations, like bamboo stalks reaching up to the sky. So of course, the question is, does BambooHR deliver?
First off, the good stuff. BambooHR knows how to create a marvelous mix of the essential tools for managing a team and driving productivity. Their feature arsenal is organized in sensible suites that address HR management, onboarding and offboarding, applicant tracking, employee experience, integration and data sharing, and advanced components such as branding and auditing.
But the suite that really stands out for me is the self-service that allows employees to see visual maps of their teams, gives visibility into attendance and important company events, connects them through in-app messaging and notifications, allows them to enter their profiles into the system and keep those updated with easy editing, and places most of the power of the app in the literal palm of their hands through the mobile apps.
But of course, we’re going to review BambooHR’s time tracking capabilities the spotlight in this review. Their time and attendance software purports to make time tracking a breeze by allowing users to clock in and out straight from their phones or the BambooHR home screen. Its one-click timesheet approval claims to cut the hours spent on the process into minutes, and it promises to give incisive insights into time spending across the ranks.
However, it does have quite a few drawbacks. It has various bugs and glitches that negatively impact usability and user experience. The mobile app is nowhere near as powerful as the desktop version. And while the reporting feature makes an effort to be insightful, it can be a bit inflexible and lacks the customization options that many users crave. On top of that, some users have found the add-ons to be a bit pricey, which can be a deal-breaker for smaller businesses. Plus, while the training feature is helpful, it could use a bit more oomph to really make it shine. A little more customization and interactivity would go a long way toward making BambooHR live up to its lofty ideals.
But before we make any conclusions on whether BambooHR stands tall or bends or breaks, let’s take a closer look at its features and everything else it has to offer.
What Do Users Like About BambooHR?
- Ability to store employee information in one place
- Applicant tracking system
- Uncomplicated form filling and acquisition of e-signatures
- Employee welfare surveys
- Easy to use and enjoyable interface
What Don't Users Like About BambooHR?
- The reporting feature is limited
- Add-ons drive the price up
- The training feature needs to be more comprehensive
- Mobile apps are not as feature-rich as the desktop version
- Bugs and glitches
What Pricing Plans Does BambooHR Offer?
BambooHR offers two paid plans and two pricing models. The plans are curated to have features geared towards two different sets of business needs, and the pricing models for those plans are based on the number of seats that a business wishes to purchase.
The Bamboo HR Essentials Plan provides a basic but powerful set of features designed to help out new companies that are just beginning their HR journey. Its HR management features are composed of employee records, benefits tracking, document storage, standard reporting, standard access levels, standard workflows and approvals, standard email alerts, and time-off management. For employee self-service, it has an employee directory and org chart, employee profile, company calendar, company links, notification center, and mobile app. Customer support is facilitated with email support and access to the customer success webinar library.
On the other hand, the BambooHR Advantage Plan is intended to be a complete platform for more experienced companies that want to fully optimize their HR experience. It has all the features of the Essentials Plan, plus more HR management features comprised of training tracking, advanced reporting, custom access levels, custom email alerts, tailored workflows and approvals, and custom tabs and fields. It also has onboarding and offboarding features composed of onboarding tasks, offboarding tasks, new hire packets, electronic signatures, and welcome emails. It also offers a job opening & careers page, job boards, candidate records, candidate keyword search and filtering, email and offer letter templates, talent pools, reporting, and a hiring mobile app for its applicant tracking system feature suite.
In addition, the Bamboo HR Advantage plan also offers eNPS – employee satisfaction surveys and employee wellbeing surveys to have a firm grasp of employee experience, BambooHR open API and BambooHR Marketplace for integrations and sharing, and advanced components featuring company branding and audit trail.
Aside from these two plans, Bamboo HR also offers add-on feature suites to further improve usability. The payroll suite is composed of direct deposit, flexible pay schedules, federal tax and state filing, a single source of data, and a specialized support team. The benefits administration suite has enrollment management, employee self-service, election review and approval, benefit plan support, reporting and data review, and carrier connections. Both suites are for US-based employees only.
Two other BambooHR add-on suites are available for employees all over the world. The performance management suite features assessments, 360° feedback, goals, automated reminders, and performance reports. The time tracking suite has mobile and desktop time clocks, project tracking, automated approval workflows, automatic overtime calculations, and the ability to view and edit employee timesheets.
Now, pricing for these Bamboo HR plans and add-ons are custom, and are based on the number of seats that businesses wish to purchase. Companies with less than 20 employees are charged a flat fee every month. Those with more than 20 employees are charged on a monthly basis for every seat, with volume discounts for growing teams. They also offer a 15% discount for registered non-profit organizations. To get a definitive quote, get in touch with a Bamboo HR account executive.
What are the Standout Features of BambooHR?
1. BambooHR Time Tracking and Payroll
In BambooHR’s arsenal, the time tracking and payroll features are the most important to discuss for me, so we’re giving them the first spotlight in this review.
BambooHR’s time tracking software is straightforward to use and allows employees to record, review, and get their hours approved with ease. It keeps track of how much time employees spend on tasks through start-and-stop timers or manual entry right on the BambooHR home screen or their mobile phones. The time tracking widget also displays the date, hours worked for the day, and total hours worked for the current week and the current pay period. It also allows them to quickly navigate to their timesheets with a handy button.
The timesheets organize and display the captured data and give employees a detailed look at where and how they’ve spent their time for the current pay period, as well as any overtime hours, time off requests, or company holidays. BambooHR also allows users to see timesheets for previous pay periods for convenient review. Admins have the option to enable timesheet editing by employers or managers to better reflect worked hours, such as when they forget to clock in or when work happens beyond the screen.
At the end of each period, BambooHR sends notifications to managers that their employees’ timesheets are ready for review and approval, which they can do one by one, or in bulk with only one click. The timesheets are then reflected in the payroll hours report which displays general, overtime, holiday, and PTO hours for each employee all in one place. It also shows which timesheets have already been approved and which ones aren’t, and allows admins to approve them right in the report to prevent payroll delay. This report can be shared with relevant stakeholders via email or as printed material and can be exported for further processing in CSV, Excel, or PDF formats.
With all of these, BambooHR eliminates the need for messy paper-based systems, saves a lot of time that is usually dedicated to these processes, and mitigates the risk of human error and compliance infarctions.
However, a word of caution. Since we’ve mentioned that BambooHR is also available on the mobile apps, be warned that it carries the risk of inaccurate time tracking. The apps are underwhelming and riddled with bugs and glitches affecting functionality and usability, so it’s better to stick with the desktop version if you want to be 100% sure you’re tracking accurately.
2. BambooHR Benefits Administration
BambooHR promises faster, friendlier, and error-free benefits administration that cuts down on the long and tortuous hours spent on calculating benefits, especially during open enrollment season.
And speaking of enrollment season, it can be a total nightmare for HR folks who spend up to 5x more hours during this period than the rest of the year chasing signatures, manually entering elections onto the system, redoing mistakes, and making sure things are just right and legally compliant. It can also be confusing for employees as well, what with the flurry of forms and red tape surrounding the season and the general unintuitiveness of paper-based elections. BambooHR promises to make it easier for HR, employees, and even new hires or QLEs by streamlining and putting all of those processes in one place.
Election of benefit packages is made easier for employees by having them do it in a dedicated enrollment window in Bamboo HR containing all the requisite information fields so they don’t have to go back and forth with HR just to complete forms correctly. Once entered into the system, HR can see employees’ enrollment status at a glance. It also allows them to review and approve electrons, send sign-up and completion reminders to employees who need it, and edit effective dates, rates, and coverage levels as needed all in one view.
BambooHR also generates an employment window election summary that shows all approved elections, and a benefit election changes report that shows all changes made to enrollments so HR can keep carriers updated on all benefit updates. And speaking of keeping carriers in the loop, the software connects with several top benefits providers with the carrier connect feature that syncs enrollment data from BambooHR to the carriers’ systems sans the need for manually updating info and all the trouble it traditionally entails.
3. BambooHR Reporting and Analytics
All of the data recorded in BambooHR — from time tracking to benefits management — are stored and secured in one place. This makes accessing employee data so much easier and a whole lot faster than paper-based systems where every piece of information has to be physically located before it can be even analyzed. This solution cuts down on the time required to generate insights from data and reduces the risk of human error in reports as well. Plus, it saves space, too — no more need for bulky filing cabinets that take up much of the office landscape!
As I’ve previously mentioned in the overview, I love the self-service feature suite because it allows employees to participate actively in ensuring that the information about them stored in the company’s system is correct and up-to-date by allowing them to enter it themselves. And while some concerns might be raised about the safety aspect of such an arrangement, the software has guardrails against data breaches by limiting who can access more sensitive information, thus cutting down on the effort and resource burden of info capture systems while also ensuring that sensitive information can only be accessed by people who need to.
BambooHR boasts of the ability to help create data-driven decisions through detailed reports sourced from data stored in the company database. These reports make sense of data using beautiful visuals that help drive the point home. And best of all, they can be done in minutes — the software does the crunching, and the user just needs to specify what they want to see and how they want to see it with a slew of templates from the report library, or with customized structures that reflect businesses’ unique analytic needs.
BambooHR shows the right information to the right people with dynamic dashboards that can be personalized to fit role-specific needs, such as by allowing managers to have time-focused reports and recruiters to see time-to-hire numbers with ease, so they can make better-informed decisions based not on guesswork, but on actual numbers. And to top it all off, the reports usually used by individual employees are saved right on their home dashboard for easy access so they spend less time thinking about how to generate insights and more time actually doing it.
But among these reporting features, what really stands out to me is the ability to add electronic signatures to the documents that require it, and to identify bottlenecks in the process with the power to easily monitor and follow up on documents that have pending signatures.
Now, while these features sound really great on paper, I’ve noticed that the customizability needs to be a little more comprehensive to get the structure that I require. Sometimes, I still import the data from BambooHR to third-party software for further processing just so I can get the exact insight that would best influence decision-making.
Aside from that, the unreliability of capturing data that I’ve previously mentioned in this BambooHR review, particularly in time tracking, is something to look out for. As BambooHR reports are sourced from data captured by the system, it’s important to constantly ensure that the recorded information is correct so that reports are precise and not skewed by inaccurate numbers.
4. BambooHR Recruitment Tools
BambooHR provides an applicant tracking system to simplify recruitment and help acquire top talents with ease. The platform collects candidate information, allowing employers to review applications quickly and communicate with candidates efficiently. Users can check candidates as soon as they apply, communicate seamlessly with them for a better employment process, and provide employers with every advantage when searching for potential employees.
The recruitment software further enables users to carry out their hiring process as a team, ensuring all the necessary people are in the loop the entire time. This makes the process more interactive and smooth as multiple team members handle the applications and hiring for the firm’s future workforce.
BambooHR’s applicant tracking system is available on mobile, so recruiters can facilitate applications even when on the go, ensuring that their companies snag the best talents before anyone else in the market does. It makes attracting potential hires a breeze with the ability to post beautifully formulated job openings on top channels such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Indeed, and more.
Communications are streamlined with a variety of auto-populated templates that recruiters can use from initial contact to offer letters. And yes, even the inevitable rejections are handled with grace, helping build and maintain employer reputation. Candidates can easily respond and accept offers with electronic signatures that eliminate the need for printers and fax machines. With BambooHR, they can say yes to recruiters’ offers by simply sending an email.
To welcome new hires into the company, BambooHR allows employers to create new hire packets to facilitate onboarding with expectation setting, team introductions, and key onboarding tasks to ensure a seamless transition.
And best of all, the data collected in the recruitment process won’t require a single filing cabinet, ever — they’re all safely stored in BambooHR’s data system.
5. Employee Welfare and Performance Reports
The next step to acquiring great talents is to ensure that they stay. It is important to ensure that they are happy in the workplace. By that, I mean properly engaged with realistic goals and stimulated to perform at their best, have the voice to affect positive change in the organization and feel cared for with frequent check-ins on their wellbeing. BambooHR provides employee experience and performance features that help businesses grow with authentic feedback. —
By harnessing the power of employee Net Promoter Score℠ (eNPS), businesses can gather information about how employees truly feel about issues facing the workforce and formulate data-driven decisions to address them. eNPS surveys give businesses solid data on employee engagement scores and an understanding of the reasons behind them. It gives visibility to valuable opinions, feelings, and insights from the ground that HR and executive partners don’t often see.
Performance management plays a vital role in ensuring that employees are properly engaged. BambooHR gives management the ability to gauge performance and address key issues affecting it with frequent and meaningful reviews that put their efforts into perspective. Its customizability with specific questions and scheduling allows for flexibility and a tailored fit for the various departments with various growth and performance metrics. And with the ability to schedule up to four formal reviews a year, impromptu sessions for more laser-focused strategies, post-project insight-gathering, and reports detailing individual and team performances, businesses are assured of having their finger on the pulse at all times. Even the new hires get a piece of the action too with 30, 60, and 90-day check-ins to ensure that they’re adapting well to the job.
Last but definitely not least, BambooHR allows businesses to help their employees feel supported and have a voice in enacting positive changes in the workplace by spotlighting how they feel about the job, the issues and relationships affecting the conduct of their duties, and what the things they need to be able to perform even better. The employee well-being feature helps fix the foundation at ground level by gathering insight through expertly formulated and tested questions on a six-point Likert scale that gives clear visibility into how employees truly feel, and I love that it also incorporates a free-response field where they can go into detail about the changes they want to see.
Selected Positive User Feedback:
- “As far as onboarding new employees, it makes it very simple and user-friendly for both the employer and the new employee.” – Jennifer Hagen (Source TrustRadius)
- “UX is nice, clean, and self-explanatory, and it doesn’t require a lot of time in daily work.” – Aleksandra R. (Source G2)
- “The applicant tracking system is very easy to use and goes the extra mile with automation and thoughtfulness concerning onboarding and then “flowing” into the core HRIS.” – Jeff W. (Source Capterra)
- “How easy BambooHR makes managing employees as an HR team of one: From administering benefits to payroll & benefits to keeping track of anniversaries and birthdays and beyond — I no longer live in spreadsheets! It’s amazing.” – Elizabeth W. (Source G2)
- “Supervisors being able to view employee documents at any time without having to come to our main location to pull the heavy paper file has been fantastic. And I always have current data at my fingertips, including historical items that we used to have to go wade through old memos to reconstruct.” – Tracie P. (Source Capterra)
- “It’s easy to use, my personal portal is easy to navigate and update accordingly, and I can see when my time cards are approved and what my total hours are at a glance.” – Verified Reviewer (Source Capterra)
- “We’ve found the software to be as advertised, constantly being improved, and customer service has been communicative on any questions or one-off special requests.” – Crystal W. (Source G2)
Selected Negative User Feedback:
- “Very limited when compared to the website. Many of the app functions don’t work correctly, and tabs are missing information/ options. The app needs much improvement.” – Shyster Three (Source Google Play Store)
- “The reporting is not as user-friendly as it could be and can feel tedious for less tech-savvy HR users.” – Gary McCarthy (Source TrustRadius)
- “Performance review is a separate module and needs an additional payment (too expensive).” – Victor (Source Software Advice)
- “Setting up leave management policies can be complex to understand, and I’m never sure I did it right. On the 1st of January, I realized that I didn’t do it well, which was too late, and I needed to make corrections in everyone’s balances.” – Aleksandra R. (Source G2)
- “If you’re looking for a comprehensive ATS with top-of-the-line performance management processes and strong benefit administration, BambooHR won’t deliver all the way.” – Dina A. (Source Capterra)
- “The training module on BambooHR seems to have some limitations for employees being self-directed to check off when they have completed their training.” – Lara W. (Source G2)
What are BambooHR's Review Ratings from Review Sites?
(As of December 2023)
- Google Play Store: 4.7/5
- App Store: 4.8/5
- Capterra: 4.6/5
- G2: 4.5/5
- Software Advice: 4.5/5
- TrustRadius: 8.2/10
- GetApp: 4.6/5
What's My Final Verdict on BambooHR?
As we conclude this BambooHR review, I’d say that it is an excellent tool for managing employees and keeping track of their time and payroll. The software’s user-friendly interface and seamless integration of essential HR features make it a powerful asset for any growing business.
BambooHR’s time tracking capabilities — which include work hour logs, timesheets, and payroll calculations based on employee hours worked — are beautifully designed, but bugs and glitches take away from their shine and compromise precision.
I also appreciate the added features such as progress reports, employee surveys, recruitment tools, and performance evaluations, which can help your organization stay on top of employee management. However, the way add-ons are priced leaves much to be desired, as they drive up expenses and make BambooHR less of a viable option for smaller businesses with tighter budgets.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that while the mobile app is designed to be convenient for on-the-go access, it is occasionally unreliable and frustratingly slow at times which can compromise the accuracy of its ability to capture time. Plus, it doesn’t offer all the same features as the website, which limits its usability. It would be great to see BambooHR improve the app’s functionality to make it a more seamless experience.
Another area for improvement is the reporting feature. While it’s helpful to have some basic insights, I often find myself wanting more detailed information to make informed decisions. More customizability in the reporting options would be a game-changer in terms of analyzing data effectively. I also think BambooHR could take the time tracking functionality to the next level by adding unique tracking features like GPS tracking or geofencing. This would be a huge benefit for tracking on-site or mobile workers, ensuring accurate time and location data. Without these features, the time tracking functionality can feel limited in its usefulness.
By addressing these limitations, I believe BambooHR could become a great tool for tracking time and streamlining HR processes.
Now, listen, I think that BambooHR delivers a large part of its promised power. By addressing their present limitations, I believe BambooHR could become an even better tool for tracking time and streamlining HR processes.
Overall, Bamboo HR is a pretty nifty HR solution, with easy clock-ins/outs, detailed timesheets, and PTO tracking.
But I find the self-service feature to be particularly impressive. I love how it lets employees enter their personal information themselves, saving HR a lot of time – cool!
I’d say that BambooHR is a great software overall, but the mobile app leaves a lot to be desired. If it could be made more stable and as richly-featured as the desktop version, it would improve reliability and usability dramatically.