Workday Reviews - Pricing, Pros/Cons, User Reviews

Get an unbiased review of Workday with OutSail: Learn about its pricing, strengths like configurable architecture, and weaknesses for mid-market companies.

Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
July 4, 2023
Workday on computer screen

As organizations navigate the complexities of modern workforce management, HRIS systems have become invaluable assets. These systems streamline administrative tasks and empower businesses with data-driven insights for strategic decision-making.

Among the prominent players in the HRIS landscape, Workday shines as a premium solution that offers a wide array of features tailored to meet the demands of enterprises across industries. In this article, we look closer at Workday's strengths, considerations, and suitability for businesses looking to enhance their HR operations.

Overview of Workday

Workday's journey in the HRIS market has been marked by impressive growth and recognition. Established with the mission to revolutionize HR and finance with modern cloud technology, Workday has risen to become a market leader in the industry.

Its impressive client roster boasts many Fortune 500 companies, showcasing top enterprises' trust in its capabilities. This dominance can be attributed to Workday's commitment to providing a comprehensive suite of HRIS solutions catering to large organizations' complex needs.

The primary strength for Workday is their strong enterprise architecture which allows the system to be configured to meet any client's requirements, without sacrificing the continuity of the entire system. In addition to being a highly configurable tool, Workday also has a very approachable user interface and a number of advanced capabilities on the HR / Talent Management side.

Workday Pricing

Workday pricing models can be complex. Workday typically charges companies on a quarterly or annual subscription basis. Workday is often one of the more expensive option in the marketplace.  Workday HCM annual subscriptions historically had a minimum annual contract value (ACV) of $250K, but this is no longer the case. Workday software fees can typically cost  $34-42 PEPM (per employee per month)

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In addition to the software fees, implementing Workday will require a one-time implementation fee. Workday (or one of their partners) will charge ~ 100% of the annual software fees for their implementation fees (i.e., $300K implementation fee on a $300K annual purchase)

Workday Market Segment

Workday is considered an Enterprise HRIS, which means the system works best for companies with more than 1,000 employees. Enterprise solutions, such as Workday HCM, are designed to be all-in-one HRIS's for companies with high degrees of complexity in their operations. Companies that operate in many states and countries, and companies with numerous entities and sub-divisions find a lot of value in working with Enterprise HRIS vendors.

Enterprise solutions, like Workday HCM, typically take about 5-9 months to implement and may require external consultants to successfully implement and manage the solutions. Enterprise solutions have powerful rules engines and unmatched custom workflow tools, that enable them to meet any company's requirements.

Workday has recently set their sights on the mid-market and have adopted a more streamlined implementation approach that can lead to lower costs and quicker implementation timelines. Workday no longer has a minimum annual contract value (ACV) of $250K for customers, with some buyers seeing annual costs in the $100K range.

Additionally, Workday offers new implementation methodologies that are enabling customers to go live with their HRIS in 3 months, and HRIS + Payroll in 4 months. This is much quicker than Workday's implementation timelines for enterprise customers and has also led to a large reduction in costs for customers.

The Strengths of Workday

Scalability & Configurability

One of Workday's standout features is its ability to combine enterprise-level power with the simplicity of mid-market systems. This scalability allows organizations with diverse operational complexities to tailor the system to their unique requirements. Workday's architecture can be configured to meet the specific needs of different clients without compromising the overall system's integrity.

User-Friendly Interface

Workday's user interface sets it apart from the competition. Its approachable design ensures administrators and end-users find the system easy to navigate. The availability of a mobile app further enhances the user experience, enabling employees to access essential HR functions on the go. This ease of use contributes to increased adoption rates and improved employee engagement.

Customization & Control

Workday empowers organizations to have precise control over their HR processes. Administrators can create custom workflows with advanced customization options, and IT teams can define intricate security permissions and rules. This level of customization ensures that the system aligns seamlessly with an organization's unique HR processes and policies.

Strong Product Architecture

Workday's product architecture is a testament to its robustness. The system's capability to seamlessly integrate with third-party systems that offer open APIs reflects its strong underlying architecture. This flexibility allows organizations to create custom integrations and maintain a connected technology ecosystem.

Cutting-Edge Talent Management Tools

Workday's prowess extends beyond core HR functions. The platform has acquired leading technologies in Talent Management, offering robust functionality for performance management, employee engagement, compensation management, workforce planning, and succession planning. This comprehensive suite of talent management tools helps organizations nurture and retain their workforce effectively.

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Considerations When Opting for Workday

Premium Investment for Premium Features

While Workday's capabilities are impressive, its pricing models can be complex. Operating on an annual subscription basis, Workday's costs are often on the higher end of the spectrum. Annual subscriptions for Workday HCM can start around $300K and may rise to $40-60 per employee per month (PEPM) for larger employers.

Minimum Spend and Implementation Costs

In addition to the subscription fees, organizations opting for Workday should be prepared for a one-time implementation fee. This fee typically ranges from 150-200% of the annual software fees. Considering these costs when evaluating the overall investment required for adopting Workday is essential.

Maintenance and Staffing

Due to the system's complexity and robust features, maintaining Workday often requires the involvement of full-time consultants or dedicated HRIS managers. While this ensures optimal system performance, it's important to factor in the costs and availability of skilled professionals when considering Workday's implementation.

Implementation Process

Implementing Workday is a strategic endeavor that requires careful planning and execution. While Workday does offer implementation services, many implementations are carried out by certified partners. Collaborating with these partners ensures a successful system rollout but adds another layer to the implementation process.

ATS and Payroll Modules

While Workday excels in many HR and talent management aspects, its Applicant Tracking System (ATS) may not be its strongest offering. Many talent acquisition organizations prefer third-party ATS solutions for their more robust capabilities. Similarly, Workday's Payroll and Time & Attendance modules might not match the sophistication of specialized payroll solutions like ADP, Ceridian, or UKG Ready.

Is Workday the Right Choice for You?

The decision to choose a Human Resource Information System (HRIS) is a critical one for any organization, and Workday offers a suite of features that cater to a diverse range of needs. However, whether Workday is the right choice for your business depends on several key factors that need careful consideration.

Enterprise Size Matters

One of the primary considerations when evaluating Workday as an HRIS solution is the size of your enterprise. Workday's strengths align particularly well with large organizations with complex HR operations across multiple departments, entities, and locations.

Its scalability allows it to handle the intricate demands of large employee populations, making it a preferred choice for enterprises with more than 2,000 employees. The system's robustness and flexibility are well-suited for companies operating in various states and countries and those with numerous entities and subdivisions.

Weighing the Benefits Against Costs

Workday's strengths, scalability, and advanced talent management tools offer value to organizations with complex HR needs. Its talent management capabilities, including performance management, employee engagement, and succession planning, are particularly appealing to enterprises aiming to nurture and retain their workforce effectively.

However, these premium features come with a corresponding price tag. The cost of adopting Workday is often on the higher end of the spectrum, with annual subscription fees and implementation costs to consider.

A Fit for Mid-Market Companies?

For mid-market companies, usually ranging from 300 to 1,500 employees, adopting Workday requires careful consideration. While the system's capabilities are impressive, the premium pricing and administrative burden may pose challenges for organizations with limited budgets and resources. Mid-market companies might be better served by HRIS solutions offering more cost-effective options without compromising essential functionalities.

Balancing Investment and Administrative Burden

When considering Workday, it's essential to strike a balance between the benefits it brings and the administrative burden it entails. Workday's powerful rules engines, custom workflow tools, and robust product architecture contribute to its comprehensive capabilities. However, these features often require dedicated HRIS managers or external consultants to ensure the system's optimal performance and alignment with your organization's needs.


Workday's position as a premier HRIS solution cannot be denied. Its scalability, user-friendly interface, customization options, and robust product architecture position it as a market leader. While it's premium pricing and administrative requirements may challenge some organizations, Workday's capabilities suit businesses seeking a comprehensive and powerful HRIS system. At OutSail, we specialize in guiding businesses through HRIS decisions, tailoring recommendations based on specific needs. Contact us for a personalized consultation and take the next step in elevating your HR operations

1. What is the pricing structure for Workday?

Workday typically operates on a quarterly or annual subscription basis, with costs ranging from $34-42 per employee per month (PEPM). Additionally, organizations should budget for a one-time implementation fee, which can be around 150-200% of the annual software fees.

2. What market segment does Workday serve best?

Workday is considered an Enterprise HRIS, catering to large organizations with more than 1,000 employees. However, it has recently expanded its offerings to the mid-market segment, providing streamlined implementation options for companies with 300-1,500 employees.

3. What are the strengths of Workday?

Workday's strengths include its scalability and configurability, user-friendly interface, customization options, strong product architecture, and cutting-edge talent management tools.

4. What considerations should organizations keep in mind when opting for Workday?

Organizations considering Workday should factor in its premium pricing, minimum spend requirements, ongoing maintenance and staffing needs, implementation process complexity, and the suitability of its Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and Payroll modules for their specific requirements.

5. Is Workday suitable for mid-market companies?

While Workday has expanded its offerings to mid-market companies, its premium pricing and administrative burden may pose challenges for organizations with limited budgets and resources. Mid-market companies should carefully weigh the benefits against the costs before opting for Workday.

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Meet the Author

Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
Brett Ungashick, the friendly face behind OutSail, started his career at LinkedIn, selling HR software. This experience sparked an idea, leading him to create OutSail in 2018. Based in Denver, OutSail simplifies the HR software selection process, and Brett's hands-on approach has already helped over 1,000 companies, including SalesLoft, Hudl and DoorDash. He's a go-to guy for all things HR Tech, supporting companies in every industry and across 20+ countries. When he's not demystifying HR tech, you'll find Brett enjoying a round of golf or skiing down Colorado's slopes, always happy to chat about work or play.

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