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Best PEO Services

A professional employer organization (PEO) is essentially an outsourced human resource (HR) department. Use our guide to research the best PEO service company for you. PEOs offer different levels of support to cater to many types of businesses. A system can take over HR-related tasks such as payroll, benefits, workers’ compensation and unemployment claims.

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Considerations for choosing PEO services

Services offered

PEOs offer several different types of services. Figuring out which services you need can help you narrow down the PEO that will work best for you.

  • Payroll: PEO services that handle payroll will take care of tax withholdings, deposits and compensation, payroll compliance, payroll management reports, garnishment/deduction administration, PTO accruals and online paystubs. Having a PEO take care of this service is ideal if you don’t have a staff member who is dedicated to taking care of payroll.
  • Benefits: PEO-sponsored benefit plans generally offer employees more options than a company would be able to obtain on its own. These benefits can include medical, dental, vision, a flexible spending account, retirement, life insurance and more. Your PEO can also make sure your company is in compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
  • HR administration: Your PEO can work with your existing HR team or can function as an outsourced HR team, depending on your company’s needs. A PEO will help you manage onboarding and termination, liability management training, employer verification and more. They can even create and distribute your employee handbooks.
  • Recruiting: Some PEOs specialize in recruitment, and they will work with you to design a customized recruitment plan for your business or organization.


Most PEO companies offer some form of training for your management team and/or HR employees. Training can vary from company to company, so it’s important to consider what type of training you want out of your PEO company before choosing one.

  • Online: Online training can be the most flexible, since you can choose when and where employees take online training courses. Some online training courses are available for free, while others come at a cost. Make sure to determine your PEO’s training cost structure before signing on.
  • Regional: Some PEOs hold regional training events throughout the year for all of their customers who operate within a specific region. This may require some travel time for you and your team, so find out what is offered during regional training sessions and where they are located.
  • On location: Some PEO companies will travel to your location for more personalized training. This type of training can be beneficial if you have an in-house HR team and/or for larger companies.

Employee perks and conveniences

Many PEOs offer certain perks for a company’s employees, which can make your company more appealing to talented candidates. How many perks you want to offer employees will determine which PEO you use.

  • Discounts: Many PEOs partner with major retailers and brands to offer discounted rates on attractions, hotels, restaurants and more that employees can utilize year-round.
  • Mobile apps: Mobile apps make it easy for employees to keep track of their benefits and retirement planning. They can also make it easy to change tax information, view deposits and learn more about all the benefits their PEO offers.
  • Transitions: Some PEOs offer assistance for employees post-termination, including polishing a resume and finding another place of employment. This type of service benefits both employers and employees.

Customer support

Whether you have a quick question or a complicated challenge, you need a PEO with an accessible support system.

  • Call center: Some smaller companies operate with a call center during off hours. This means you will talk to a person anytime you call, but you won’t actually get an answer to your question until a company representative is available, which is generally during normal business hours.
  • Direct representative: Some companies only answer the phones themselves, which means you will only talk to a company representative when you call for support. Their hours may vary, so make sure you know what times someone is available.
  • In-person: Some PEOs will respond to training questions and other complicated challenges with an in-person visit. Likewise, PEOs that operate within a specific region or state might be more likely to offer in-person visits than national PEOs.
  • Personal consultant: Some PEOs will designate an assigned personal consultant for your company, so you work with the same person every time you have a PEO question or need. It’s important to work with someone you trust and can communicate with.


PEOs handle large amounts of cash, and working with one that is accredited means you are working with one that is guaranteed to be reliable and regulated. Note that many PEOs that are not currently accredited are still reputable and upstanding companies, so you should not base your PEO decision solely on accreditation.

  • ESAC: The Employer Services Assurance Corporation (ESAC) is an independent non-profit corporation that provide accreditation and financial assurance programs for the PEO industry. To be accredited by the ESAC, a PEO has to provide ESAC comprehensive compliance data, which is verified by a team of financial and legal advisors along with ESAC’s surety carrier. Interested businesses can verify the accreditation status of any PEO on ESAC’s website.

Business size

The size of your business will impact what you need from your PEO along with how much money you can afford to spend on one.

  • Startups and small businesses: Hiring a full-time HR representative can be more costly than hiring a PEO for startups and small businesses (1-100 people). These businesses will likely need a PEO to handle most HR functions and to ensure they are compliant. Note that businesses with less than 10 employees may have difficulty finding a PEO that will accept them on a group insurance policy, so make sure to ask about group insurance policy acceptance if you have less than 10 employees.
  • Midsize businesses: Midsize businesses (100-250 employees) may not find a PEO to be cost-effective, but the benefits of hiring a PEO to handle compliance, health insurance, worker’s compensation and other HR-related issues can quickly outweigh the financial cost.
  • Large businesses: Businesses with 250-1,000+ employees will have specific needs from their PEO. These may include training, recruiting, background screening and other tasks that go beyond basic HR functions. Look for a PEO that specializes in working with large businesses.

Types of PEO service providers

Full-service HR

A PEO that handles full-service HR functions will take care of all of your administrative needs, including payroll, taxes, worker’s compensation, insurance and benefits. These services might be offered a la carte or as a bundled full-service HR package. This type of PEO is useful for businesses who don’t have a dedicated HR department.


A PEO dedicated to recruitment will help you navigate the recruitment from start to finish, including writing a job description that will attract top talent, determine the appropriate wage amounts for each job, manage the interview process and even take care of reference and background checks.

Businesses that use PEO services

Companies with international employees

Companies that frequently hire international employees will want to work with a PEO that specializes in handling immigration paperwork and maintaining compliance. This will make the recruiting, hiring and training process much easier and ensure you are following all regulations and laws.


Startup businesses often don’t have a budget for HR, and the business owner ends up taking on the added role of HR representative. This can have serious consequences if you are not compliant and/or make a payroll mistake. Hiring a PEO is often less expensive than hiring a full-time HR representative, and it is worth the upfront cost to avoid making costly mistakes down the road.

Growing businesses

Growing businesses may need a PEO to help them transition from one size to the next. A PEO can help find the best benefits for your employees as you move from a small to midsize or larger business.

Companies who do a lot of hiring

Companies who hire frequently will want a PEO that offers recruiting as one of their services to attract, hire and retain talented individuals.

Job seekers

Some PEOs offer their recruiting services to job seekers, who can use the PEO to find jobs related to their skillset. This can give you an advantage when job seeking.

PEO Services FAQ

Is a PEO an employer?

Technically, a PEO is the “employer of record” for its clients. This means that the PEO handles employment obligations and is considered the employer for tax purposes. However, the client continues running the day-to-day operations of their company. This is also known as a co-employment agreement.

What does a PEO cost?

PEOs either charge a flat fee for each employee or a percentage of your payroll:

  • PEOs that charge flat fees usually cost between $500 and $1,500 per employee each year.
  • PEOs that charge based on payroll usually get 2% to 11% of your company’s total salaries and wages.

These rates depend on the services you request. Expect to pay closer to the higher end of these ranges if you opt for:

  • More employee benefits
  • Personnel management products
  • Recruitment services
  • Employee training

Smaller, growing companies often find that the cost of PEO services is less than hiring full-time human resources (HR) staff.

How does a PEO work?

PEOs serve as co-employers for their clients’ workers. You continue operating your company’s production, marketing, customer service and other day-to-day tasks. Meanwhile, your PEO handles all the tasks normally done by a human resources department, including payroll, benefits administration, personnel problems and compliance.

What are the benefits of a PEO?

PEOs provide the same benefits as having an in-house HR department, including:

  • Simple employee benefits administration
  • Lower workers’ compensation costs
  • Boosting recruitment
  • Ensuring compliance

PEOs also have significant buying power, which results in cheaper rates on insurance and benefits.

Are PEOs a good idea?

Yes, PEOs are a good idea for businesses without an HR staff that need help:

These benefits usually appeal to startups, companies with international employees, growing businesses and companies that are doing a lot of hiring. When considering a PEO, do the math and weigh the benefits of co-employment versus hiring HR workers.

Not sure how to choose?

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    Author reviews for PEO services


    Founded in 1988 and headquartered in San Leandro, Calif., TriNet provides bundled HR solutions, cloud products and strategic services for over 13,000 clients across the country. They work with small and mid-sized businesses in a variety of industries, including entertainment, financial services, healthcare, technology, nonprofit and many more.

    • Leadership training: Managers and supervisors need to be well-informed of best practices when it comes to compliance and other HR-related issues. TriNet’s leadership training and development workshops are designed to help company leaders build their company culture and understand compliance issues. Workshops take place at your company’s location or at a regional location.
    • HR grader: Use TriNet’s HR grader tool to determine your company’s current HR status and find areas where your company needs improvement. This tool can help you figure out which of TriNet’s three bundled HR products will be most beneficial for you.
    • International services: Companies that frequently hire international employees have to deal with a lot of additional headaches, such as visas, immigration and retention. TriNet International Services takes care of managing the immigration process on their cloud-based system, including visa and green card application and renewal.
    • Career Transitions: TriNet’s Career Transitions service provides support and guidance for employees who have been terminated. This service demonstrates to your employees, both those who have been terminated and those still employed, that they are valued. It also minimizes the risk of adverse reactions by helping the terminated employee focus on their employment future instead of dwelling on the past.
    Read 193 Reviews

    Insperity provides human resources and administrative solutions to small- and medium-sized businesses. The company was founded in Texas in 1986 and has more than 60 offices across the nation that serve over 100,000 businesses. Insperity is a publicly traded company.

    • Full-service HR: Small-to-medium businesses with less than 5,000 employees can outsource their entire HR management to Insperity. The company handles benefits, payroll, risk management, compliance and talent.
    • Individual services: If a one-size-fits-all solution isn’t right for your company, you can also opt for individual services for recruiting, insurance, HR consulting, retirement/401ks, accounting and bookkeeping.
    • Technology solutions: You can work with Insperity on individual technology solutions, including payroll, human capital management, time clocks, employee scheduling, organizational charting, performance reviews and expense reporting.
    • Locations: Insperity has more than 60 offices across the United States. A tool on the company’s website lets you enter a ZIP code to find the nearest location. Branches are available in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.
    Read 479 Reviews

    Paychex, Inc. was founded in 1971 as a payroll outsourcing company. Today they serve over 600,000 clients in more than 100 locations across the United States. Paychex provides payroll and human resources products and services for small, midsize and large businesses.

    Read 360 Reviews

    Founded in 1996 and headquartered in Norman, Oklahoma, Nextep offers a wide range of services for companies across the country, including employee benefits, HR, workers’ compensation and payroll processing. Companies can utilize the services they need for an affordable price.

    • No call centers: Nextep doesn’t utilize call centers, so customers who need to talk to someone about their PEO services will reach someone from Nextep’s service team directly when they call.
    • Cloud-based technology: You and your employees will have 24/7 online access to HR accounts, payroll information and benefits information with Nextep. You can also use the cloud to store vital company documents, including policies, employee handbooks and benefit materials.
    • Transparent billing: Nextep’s transparent billing approach breaks costs down line-by-line, so you always know exactly what you’re being charged for every service you use on every invoice you receive.
    • Workplace perks program: Rewarding your employees is easy when you partner with Nextep. You and your employees have access to a lengthy list of promotions, deals and opportunities that is always changing. Some of their rotating offers are for major retailers such as Target, Amazon, Costco and more.
    • Online training: Nextep’s online training makes it easy for you to decide when and where you want to train your employees. Tailor your Nextep training program based on your company’s needs and the needs of individual employees. Employees can be granted full access to all of Nextep’s training courses for the flat fee of $50 per employee per year.

    Emplicitly provides small and midsized companies with customized human resource solutions. Their plans range from basic solutions to full-service HR management. They have locations throughout California and Texas.

    Read 6 Reviews
    Group Management Services

    Group Management Services (GMS) works with companies of all sizes across the United States. They offer administrative services, including payroll and tax management, HR services, employee benefits and risk management. They also offer third-party administrator (TPA) for insurance brokers.

    • Specialty services for insurance brokers: GMS offers TPA services for insurance brokers, which ensures compliance and helps brokers improve their clients’ experience.
    • Customized payroll reports: You will have a dedicated GMS payroll processor who will send you only the reports, out of the over 500 GMS offers, you want. They will email these reports to you with every batch.
    • Customized HR: GMS conducts a thorough HR analysis for you before determining which HR tasks they need to work on first. Your HR tools can adjust as your needs change.
    • Online resource center: Learn more about PEOs, workplace safety, outsourced HR and more by visiting GMS’s extensive online education center. These resources are available for free to everyone, not just GMS customers.
    • Request a free quote online: Fill out a simple online form to request a free quote from GMS.
    Infiniti HR

    Infiniti offers full service outsourcing plans along with consulting options for specific projects. All of their plans are customizable to meet the unique needs of each individual company. Inquire about a quote online or by calling and speaking to a representative.

    • Customizable consultation pricing: Infiniti’s consultations are priced to meet your needs. They can be priced on a project-by-project basis or by the hour, depending on your needs.
    • Range of companies served: Infiniti has solutions for every size company, from startups to large national chains. Small companies have room to grow with Infiniti.
    • Nonprofits: Infiniti has HR services specifically designed for nonprofit organizations. Additionally, Infiniti Insurance Trust is an unemployment trust and statutory insurance program just for 501(c) organizations. This helps to reduce the high costs of unemployment and allows you to increase your assets.
    • Free online training: Infiniti HR customers can utilize over 1,000 free online training courses with topics such as finance, HR, business and technology. Curate an online training program that’s a perfect fit for your office.
    • Resource center: Stay in-the-know on the latest topics, news and trends in HR by checking in on Infiniti’s online resource center. Their resources include information on dealing with unemployment, career development, workforce management and more.

    XcelHR is headquartered in Maryland but has locations across the country. The company offers administrative services for companies that have one to 1500 employees.

    • Flexible plan options: Choose from individual administrative options, or bundle services together. XcelHR will work with you to customize a PEO plan that perfectly aligns with your company’s needs and goals.
    • Plans for businesses of different sizes: XcelHR’s plans vary depending on the size of your company. They have certain plans for small to midsize businesses (1-250 employees) and large businesses (250-1500 employees).
    • Government contract solutions: New and existing government contractors can find unique solutions to meet their needs, including software and support, compliance support and payroll management.
    • Resources: Find out answers to your HR-related questions, including employee onboarding best practices, employment engagement and how to handle overtime by checking in on XcelHR’s resource page.
    • Newsletter signup: Sign up for XcelHR’s newsletters to get all of the HR-related news and updates you need to stay on track and up-to-date. Submit your email address and choose as many of the four offered newsletters that you want to receive.
    Employer Solutions Group

    Employer Solutions Group (ESG) was founded in 1997 and provides HR-related services, including employee and manager training services, consulting, employee assessment, recruiting, payroll and benefits. They work with businesses that range from one to over 1,000 employees, but their most successful clients have between 10 and 100 employees.

    • Customizable options: Whether you are a small company that needs full-service HR or a large company with an internal HR department that only needs administrative tasks outsourced, ESG can help. Talk to a representative to develop a customized plan to meet your HR needs.
    • Employer discount program: Employees who work for companies that are customers of ESG can enjoy savings and perks from major retailers, including Amazon, Disneyland and DISH Network.
    • Recruiting services: ESG can help companies find, recruit and hire talented employees for your team. Their recruiting services include compensation/benefits package development, applicant screening, recruiting and interview skills training.
    • Resources: Learn about HR laws, find forms and learn about the NAPEO conference on ESG’s resource page. These resources and more are available publicly, regardless of whether or not you are an ESG customer.
    • Training: ESG has several options for employee training, and they will customize a training program that suits your company and your specific goals. They will visit your location to present training for your staff and/or management team. They also have online training courses, which are available as an upgrade.

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