Professional employer organizations (PEO) bundle benefits and manage human resources (HR) operations (like recruiting, onboarding, payroll, and training) into one service—allowing small business owners to outsource tedious HR management tasks. The best PEO companies have the buying power to negotiate affordable employee health insurance. They can also reduce your workers’ compensation expenses by pooling employees across multiple businesses.
Best PEO Companies for Small Businesses
(Best Overall) Businesses with fewer than 100 employees that want the low price option
Businesses that want onsite HR consulting services and are looking for a good alternative to ADP
Existing ADP Run or Workforce users looking to upgrade to a PEO quickly
Employers that want employee engagement tools like performance feedback
Multi-state employers that want to offer affordable benefits for all staff
Franchise businesses that need a customized PEO solution
High-risk and regulated industries like financial services and light manufacturing
Which PEO Company Is Best for You?
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How We Evaluated Professional Employer Organizations
We looked at the most popular and decided to showcase seven of the best PEO companies for small businesses. Although smaller companies don’t often need the more advanced features of a PEO, such as applicant tracking and government contracting compliance, we evaluated PEO companies that had these features. They may become necessary as your small business grows.
Moreover, as your business scales up, you’re likely to want to stay with the same PEO. Therefore, we only considered providers that offer options to support your business now and in the future.
Here are the features that we looked at when evaluating PEO companies:
- Pricing: Options that are affordable and let you choose the services needed
- Ease of use: Tools that have both employer portal and an HR website for staff
- Payroll software and tax processing: Payroll payments plus state, federal, and local tax processing
- Health insurance for your employees: Medical, dental, and vision benefits plans
- Paperless onboarding: Automated forms and e-signature options
- HR compliance: HR management tools and strategic HR consulting services
- Performance management: Employee reviews and performance feedback solutions
- Recruiting: Applicant tracking systems and job postings to find employees
- Time and attendance: Overtime calculations for all states
- Employee self-service: Online portal, mobile apps, or a mobile-optimized website
- Risk and safety compliance: Options for safety training and compliance audits
- Government contracting: Support for federal contractors
The prices for PEO companies vary significantly from less than $100 a month per employee to tens of thousands of dollars per year depending on employer size, location, and business credit scores. Your workers’ compensation and insurance experience can also affect your overall costs. Note, however, that any insurance, workers’ comp, employee benefits, and 401(k) contributions paid by your business are extra. For example, if you choose to contribute $100 toward each employee’s monthly health care premiums, that pre-tax cost is in addition to the administrative fee you pay to the PEO firm.
Based on the needs of small businesses, we recommend Justworks as the best PEO as it allows you to set up full benefits even if you have as few as two employees. It can also scale up as your business grows, offering everything from health insurance to gym memberships.
Justworks: Best Overall PEO Company for Small Businesses
We recommend Justworks as the best PEO company for any small business that wants to provide employees with a professional HR experience. It is easy to set up and access, plus Justworks is the most affordable PEO service of all the national professional employer organizations we considered—with fees that start at $49 a month per employee. It also provides volume pricing discounts, meaning your per employee price drops as your business grows.
Additionally, Justworks offers a full suite of services so you can rest easy knowing that your health insurance, payroll, benefits, and employee perks (like commuter passes―if your employees need them) are taken care of. It even has an employee self-service tool that’s user-friendly for both you and your employees, and can even serve as a one-stop-shop for everything people and HR-related.
Justworks was the most transparent in its pricing and services of all the PEOs we reviewed.
Depending on how many employees you have and the plan selected, Justworks costs $39 to $99 per month, per employee.
For example, a company with 10 employees will pay $49 per month, per employee for the Basic plan or $99 per month, per employee for the Plus plan—a tier that includes a full suite of benefits. If you pay annually, then you get a price break of up to $15 per person.
Pricing for up to 24 Employees
($42 if billed annually)
($84 if billed annually)
Pricing for 25 to 99 Employees
($37 if billed annually)
($76 if billed annually)
Pricing for 100 to 174 Employees
($33 if billed annually)
($67 if billed annually)
Pricing for more than 175 Employees
What’s nice about Justworks, as compared to most PEOs, is that you’ll know your prices upfront. There are no step-up fees other than what’s shown.
Justworks offers software as a service (SaaS) as part of its PEO. You gain access to HR solutions that are easy for both you and your employees to use―whether you’re updating employee data or running reports. From its simple-to-set up online tools and live chat support, which most PEOs don’t offer, Justworks is all about taking the stress out of managing people.
- HR management and tools: Justworks will help handle all of your employment-related compliance needs and HR administrative tasks, such as tracking PTOs and storing employee documents. It has cloud-based HR tools for managing employee information, onboarding new hires, approving PTOs via email, and tracking key business metrics among others.
- Employee benefits: You are granted access to all kinds of employee benefits, allowing your small business to offer big company health insurance plans―provided you subscribe to the Plus tier.
- Payroll service: Aside from managing US payroll and payroll tax filings (such as year-end W-2s and 1099s), Justworks can process commission payments and reimburse expenses. It supports weekly and biweekly pay periods, and can even manage payroll for contractors and vendors. If you upgrade to the Plus plan, then it will handle your company 401(k) plan as well.
- Employee self-service: Its intuitive employee self-service dashboard makes it easy for employees to manage time-off requests and benefits enrollment, as well as view pay stubs, tax forms, and other employee documents.
- Customer support: Justworks’ customer support is available 24/7. Even with the Basic plan, you have access to certified HR experts that you may contact via phone, email, live chat, and Twitter. It also offers HR support to your employees, unlike other PEOs (such as ADP TotalSource) that will send the employee back to you if they have questions.
What Justworks Is Missing
Among the PEOs we reviewed, Justworks is the newest national PEO company and may lack the depth of experience of some of the larger PEOs (like TriNet and ADP) that have been around for more than 20 years.
What Users Think About Justworks
Justworks users rated it as 4.8 out of 5-stars on our site. What small business users like is the easy-to-use interface and that it processes payroll for both employees and contractors, which PEOs like Oasis don’t. However, some users note that it lacks advanced features (such as applicant tracking) and robust reports.
Paychex: Best PEO Company for On-Site HR Consulting Services
We recommend Paychex as the best PEO for small businesses that want the benefit of certified HR generalists to provide on-site consulting. With HR staff available in more than 100 US locations, Paychex claims to be the only PEO that sends HR experts to you, so it’s more than an online co-employer. Working with Paychex is like having your own HR rep. It’s priced at the higher end, similar to ADP TotalSource.
Another benefit of Paychex is that even though it owns all the HRIS software itself, it doesn’t require you to use all its offerings. For example, if its group workers’ compensation rates are higher than what you already pay, it won’t expect you to switch. Meanwhile, with ADP TotalSource, you only have one option for workers’ comp—the one offered by ADP TotalSource.
Paychex PEO Pricing
Paychex bases its PEO pricing on variables like location, what states your employees work in, and the number of pay periods you have. Its prices start at less than $100 a month per employee if you run biweekly payroll with basic PEO services.
However, unlike other PEOs that price based on a percentage of payroll, Paychex’s administrative fee—once you choose the services you want—includes everything. What it doesn’t cover are workers’ compensation, health insurance, and benefits premiums.
Paychex PEO Features
Many are familiar with Paychex’s reputation as one of the larger payroll providers. Its PEO option builds on this payroll expertise with the addition of full-service HR, benefits, and compliance offerings. As a PEO, it pools your employees with 90,000 other businesses’ employees to obtain better prices on benefits, insurance, and 401(k) plans. With Paychex, you can choose which features to start with and add as you go. Paychex also allows you to determine and pay for the various HR features you want.
- HR management and tools: Paychex offers standard HR features to help you manage different facets of the employee life cycle, from onboarding to retirement. In addition, you can get learning management and employee performance review tools.
- Employee benefits: It offers benefits administration and access to health insurance (both group and individual) options, retirement plans, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting, and more.
- Payroll service: Paychex includes timekeeping in its payroll software, plus federal and state tax compliance and year-end forms.
- Employee self-service: Paychex has an employee services portal for your staff to manage their own tax deductions, view and print pay stubs, and, depending on your setup, enroll in benefits or sign up for online classes. However, Paychex’s self-service portal and mobile apps are menu-driven and antiquated, unlike those of other PEOs (like Justworks and TriNet), which are more intuitive to use.
- Customer support: Paychex offers support to your employees via online help documents. It provides phone and email to you as an administrator 24/7. In addition, if you need help with HR-compliance questions, it provides certified HR staff who can work with you remotely or at your worksite.
What Paychex PEO Is Missing
Paychex’s due-diligence process may make it harder for companies in riskier industries (such as construction or light manufacturing) to be accepted for co-employment unless they have no prior workers’ compensation claims.
What Users Think About Paychex PEO
While there are many positive reviews on the company itself, we couldn’t find many reviews on the Paychex PEO service which uses their Paychex Flex software.
ADP TotalSource: Best PEO for ADP Run or Workforce Users
We recommend ADP TotalSource, which is ADP’s PEO option, as best for those who want to work with an established payroll provider. It is also ideal for those upgrading from a prior ADP payroll platform as it makes the transition to a PEO service with a provider you’re already familiar with much easier. Note, however, that ADP TotalSource is a bit costlier than Justworks in comparison.
If you’re currently using ADP Run or ADP Workforce Now, then switching to ADP TotalSource makes sense. You’ll save on implementation time and data migration costs and have a shorter learning curve.
ADP TotalSource Pricing
ADP TotalSource’s pricing scheme is based on several factors such as your credit rating, workers’ compensation rating, business size, and health insurance experience. While we couldn’t get an exact price, providers similar to it typically charge anywhere from $120 to $240 per month, per employee.
ADP TotalSource Features
ADP TotalSource has over 60 years of experience in the payroll service industry and offers a co-employment solution to help handle your day-to-day HR tasks. It provides an all-inclusive package with all the same services as other PEOs like TriNet and Oasis Outsourcing.
- HR management and tools: ADP TotalSource, although built around a payroll foundation, has solutions for applicant tracking, HR onboarding, employee information management, compliance, time and attendance, and performance reviews. This prevents you from having to bolt on this HR software through an interface—ADP TotalSource offers these in an all-in-one system.
- Employee benefits: You get benefits administration tools and the capability to provide health insurance options to your employees. It also offers workers’ compensation, but, unlike some of the other PEOs, you can’t shop around for rates as it has its own program.
- Payroll service: ADP has a solid reputation for payroll and tax processing. With ADP TotalSource, you’ll even be able to provide employees with 401(k) plans and workers’ compensation insurance.
- Employee self-service: With its MyADP portal, your employees can view pay stubs, year-end W-2s, and tax documents. It also has mobile apps (for iOS and Android) that lets you manage timekeeping and benefits. Note, though, that the app isn’t nearly as comprehensive as what’s provided by TriNet or Justworks.
- Customer support: Its customer support includes access to HR and payroll professionals who can assist you. However, ADP prefers that you manage your own employee issues and only provides online help or a form for employees to fill out and submit. For example, if an employee can’t log in to view his or her pay stub, ADP won’t offer assistance, and the employee will need to come to you for help resetting his or her password.
What ADP TotalSource Is Missing
ADP TotalSource isn’t as integrated with other ADP products as it should be. Each product— ADP Run, ADP Workforce Now, and ADP TotalSource—is managed in separate divisions of the same company. In addition, as a co-employer of your staff, ADP may not provide the employee experience you want. Other HR support-oriented PEOs (like Oasis Outsourcing and Paychex) provide better HR support, including assisting with employee relations issues.
What Users Think About ADP TotalSource
ADP earns 3.3 out of 5-star ratings consistently and long-term users like the features they get. Some report issues with customer service but, overall, users are pleased with having one system to manage all their HR and payroll needs.
XcelHR: Best for Managing Employee Productivity and Performance
We recommend XcelHR as the best PEO for employee productivity and performance tools, in addition to all the features you’d expect from a PEO. It allows you to survey your employees, manage your talent pool, and conduct employee performance reviews. It also assists you in attracting, hiring, and retaining talented employees.
XcelHR, like many other PEOs, doesn’t provide pricing without evaluating your business first. You can either fill up an online form or contact its office directly to request a quote. For reference, similar PEOs charge monthly fees that range from $120 to $240 per employee.
XcelHR offers the same HR administration, payroll processing, tax compliance, and benefits services as the other PEO companies, but focuses a bit more on the employee experience. For example, employees can upload photos of important documents (like signed I-9s) directly into its system.
- HR management and tools: It has solutions for managing applicants, employee information, time and attendance, PTO, HR compliance, and performance reviews. XcelHR also provides paperless options for employees, such as online forms and digital handbooks.
- Employee benefits: It offers health insurance and other benefits such as retirement plans, employee assistance programs, and work-life services.
- Payroll services: XcelHR’s payroll tool is integrated with its onboarding and benefits solutions, which help ensure that all pay-related details are captured correctly. It also supports multiple pay types, from weekly to semimonthly and monthly. On the other hand, its payroll tax services include W-4 administration, W-2 and W-3 preparation and distribution, and quarterly 941 filings.
- Employee self-service: With XcelHR’s self-service tool, employees can access digital files, view and print pay stubs, and upload documents.
- Customer support: XcelHR doesn’t have a call center. The best way to receive support is to contact one of its physical offices by phone. You can also fill up and submit an online form, and XcelHR will respond either through email or phone call.
What XcelHR Is Missing
Unlike Justworks, XcelHR doesn’t provide pricing online. Therefore, you’ll need to consult with a sales representative to determine the exact feature set you want. Then, it’ll provide you with a customized quote.
What Users Think About XcelHR
While XcelHR generally has good reviews, a common complaint is that its support team may take a while to get back to you. With only a handful of offices across the US—compared to Paychex having more than 100—it may not have an office near you.
TriNet: Best PEO if You Have Employees in Multiple States
We recommend TriNet as the best mid-priced PEO for small businesses with employees in multiple states. Its purchasing power allows it to offer great benefit rates to even the smallest companies, including those employing remote staff in rural areas where few healthcare plans are available.
At Fit Small Business, we use TriNet as our PEO because it provides our remote staff with an online HR portal, localized health insurance, and a range of perks (such as commuter benefits and employee discount programs). The best PEO is often the one that meets the needs of your business location, size, services, and industry. Contact TriNet for a quote.
TriNet’s pricing is based on variables that include your industry, your company size, and business location. Prices may start as low as $125 per month, per employee, which is higher than newer PEOs like Justworks. One of the benefits of TriNet is that you can sign up anytime, even midyear, and you won’t have any tax resets. It’ll give you credit for what’s already been paid.
TriNet’s PEO services cover the full HR spectrum, from onboarding to payroll, benefits, timekeeping, and expense reimbursement. Onboarding is done online, and so is benefits enrollment using its user-friendly portal.
- HR management and tools: TriNet manages the entire employee lifecycle, including paperless onboarding, applicant tracking for recruitment, time and attendance monitoring, performance management, HR-compliance training on topics like avoiding sexual harassment and discrimination, and strategic HR consulting services.
- Employee benefits: You are granted access to a wide selection of benefit options, from health insurance coverage to retirement plans and employee discounts options from TriNet’s marketplace of business partners (like gyms, flower shops, computer stores, and more).
- Payroll service: TriNet provides the full range of payroll services including online pay stubs and tax filings. Employees can view their pay history online and even obtain employment verification if they need to purchase a vehicle or home.
- Employee self-service: TriNet gives your employees access to their own information using an online portal or mobile app. In fact, its mobile app lets employees do just about anything they need, such as requesting time off, searching for people in the company directory, keeping track of all their benefits, and viewing their payroll, pay stub, and tax information.
- Customer support: TriNet offers phone and email support, Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to midnight Eastern time. However, it does not offer live chat, and some online reviewers found TriNet’s email support frustrating.
What TriNet Is Missing
TriNet isn’t the low-cost leader. In other words, when you sign up, you get it all, but you also pay for it. Other vendors like Paychex and XcelHR let you choose only the specific services you need and price accordingly.
What Users Think About TriNet
TriNet’s reviews fall in the 4.5 out of 5-star range on our review. Users like the HR support they receive, although some find the application a bit difficult to navigate.
INFINITI HR: Best PEO for Franchise Customization
INFINITI HR is unique due to its affiliation with the International Franchise Association (IFA). It’s great for franchisees in production industries and hotels, and a good choice for franchisors to customize for its system. It also supports nonprofits and offers options to tailor the PEO services to your particular industry.
INFINITI HR provides your business with quick access to online employee data. It even allows you to track employee talent profiles that show their skills and education. That’s often important in a franchise organization where users must be trained on a skill before they’re given a job role, like fry cook or store manager.
INFINITI HR Pricing
INFINITI HR, like many of the PEO companies, doesn’t disclose its pricing online. It prefers to dialogue with prospective clients and provide a custom proposal. The cost also depends on how many employees you have and what features you sign up for. Meanwhile, PEOs similar to it have fees that range from $120 to $240 per month, per employee.
INFINITI HR Features
INFINITI HR provides a scalable HR tool and gives you the support of experienced professionals in HR and risk management, in addition to payroll and benefits. It can assist you with HR and employment-related compliance issues. Further, it provides excellent online resources such as links to industry organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
- HR management and tools: INFINITI HR can help you recruit talent and offer competitive employee benefits, as well as manage HR administrative tasks. It provides up-to-date information on labor laws and workplace safety to help reduce risk. It can also assist you in creating HR resources, like an employee handbook and company policies and procedures to manage your staff.
- Employee benefits: You are provided access to health and life insurance plans, including reward options and employee discounts.
- Payroll services: Like the other PEO services we’ve reviewed, INFINITI HR will provide secure internal access to payroll data, tax forms, and other pay-related documents.
- Employee self-service: INFINITI HR has a manager and employee self-service portal that allows users to enter time and view pay stubs. However, it lacks a mobile app.
- Customer support: INFINITI HR has offices on the east and west coasts. It boasts a four-hour response time to return calls and emails. However, calling on a weekend will connect you to voicemail. Alternatively, you can raise your concerns via its online chat, or you can accomplish and submit an online form through its website.
What INFINITI HR Is Missing
INFINITI HR doesn’t appear to have real-time support on the weekend, which may be an issue if you’re in a retail or foodservice industry with employees working multiple shifts. I also found its online chat unhelpful.
What Users Think About INFINITI HR
Employers like getting great feedback on how helpful it is for their employees who use INFINITI HR. They themselves would like to see better reporting and analytics. They also don’t appreciate having software updates without solid instructions.
Oasis: Best PEO Company for Regulated Industries
We recommend Oasis as the best PEO for regulated industries like manufacturing, banking, and financial services. It caters to specific industries with an emphasis on risk management, in addition to its HR, payroll, and benefits services. Its employee-leasing model leaves you free to focus on your core business while it manages the rest.
Of all the vendors we reviewed, Oasis provides the most strategic support within its service. This includes hands-on assistance with compensation analysis, risk avoidance, and employee-relations issues.
Oasis’ pricing information isn’t readily available on its website. You have to contact the provider to discuss your requirements and request a quote. Our research shows its fees may range from $180 to $220 per month, per employee.
Oasis has been in the HR outsourcing business for more than 20 years and, like TriNet, ADP Total Source, and other PEOs, it offers an entire range of services that includes HR, benefits, payroll, risk management, labor law compliance, and even assistance with small businesses that do government contracting.
- HR management and tools: Oasis has more robust staffing and electronic onboarding than Justworks, including other HR features like employee relations assistance, training and development, and safety training. In addition, Oasis’s HR consultants, called “Client Solutions Managers,” provide personal assistance to you and your employees on everything—from creating an employee handbook to reviewing a policy and updating job descriptions.
- Employee benefits: With Oasis, you can offer big company benefit health insurance, financial savings options, and retirement plans.
- Payroll services: You get standard payroll and records management, as well as payroll reports, tax filings, and compliance. It also includes time and attendance and leave management tools, similar to Justworks.
- Employee self-service: Oasis offers online and internet-based self-service, giving employees secure touch-ID login access (iOS only) for security. Employees can look up and view tax and payroll information, 401(k) plan details, and time-off balances, as well as access employee discounts online.
- Customer support: Its customer support hours are Mondays to Fridays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time, with help available by phone or email. Both employees and administrators can also open help desk tickets online. As a bonus, employees are provided with a dedicated phone number to call if they have questions.
What Oasis Is Missing
Oasis Outsourcing’s support hours are somewhat limited, and you have to navigate an annoying phone menu to reach the right person. Therefore, it may not be best for small businesses working evening and weekend hours, like in foodservice, retail, or entertainment industries. In addition, its PEO doesn’t manage payments to 1099 contractors, whereas most of the other PEOs do.
What Users Think About Oasis
Before being acquired by Paychex, Oasis was the largest privately-held PEO company. Users like how it provides extensive HR consulting support. On the downside, some are frustrated that benefits aren’t offered to employers with fewer than 10 employees.
The most important piece of advice when it comes to partnering with a PEO company as it is when choosing any payroll service is to do your due diligence. You need more than payroll services. You want your PEO to be stable financially, and to offer excellent customer service and employee support. You also need to balance affordable insurance and health benefit options for your employees with reasonable administrative fees for you. That’s why Justworks is our No. 1 choice.
Justworks allows you to choose your plan and offers pricing discounts as you add staff. With Justworks, you can have all the HR and benefits options of a big company even if you have as few as two employees. The price you pay will serve as an investment in your staff. As your business grows, you’ll be confident knowing you’re in compliance with labor and tax laws.