XcelHR Review 2023: Is It Right for Your Business?
This article is part of a larger series on Payroll Services.
XcelHR is a highly flexible professional employer organization (PEO) that works well with small businesses, even those with only one employee. It offers a buffet of human resources (HR) and payroll functions. The benefits choices are wide-ranging and include both standard offerings like health and retirement plans and nonstandard options such as employee discounts, auto and pet insurance, and legal assistance. It provides solid compliance support that includes workplace safety audits and offers custom pricing.
XcelHR scored well in our best PEO companies guide. It received a perfect score for HR administration features because it offers strong compliance help, including safety inspections and audits. It’s also easy to use and carries robust payroll tools. However, its custom pricing, lack of IRS and Employer Services Assurance Corporation (ESAC) certifications, and limited user reviews prevented it from scoring higher.
What We Like
- Excellent help maintaining compliance
- Benefits that go beyond the standard
- Compliance support includes workplace safety inspections and policy help
- Outdated-looking interface
- Not for international businesses
- Pricing isn’t transparent
- Computed per employee or as a portion of a business’ gross payroll, depending on business size
- HR services: Help in recruiting, writing job descriptions, resume reviews, paid time off (PTO) policy administration, background checks, pre-employment assessment, and phone interview
- Employee benefits: Offers health, vision, dental, disability, life insurance, 401(k) plans, and retirement
- Payroll and taxes: Process payroll and help in direct deposit; child support; garnishments; job costing; state and local tax compliance; and W-2, W-3, and W-4 administration
- Risk and compliance: Safety audits and inspections, safety policy development and documentation, and annual wage and premium audit administration
- Training and development: Offers training on
- Email, chat, and phone
What We Recommend XcelHR For
XcelHR’s flexibility and huge benefits set make it stand out from the dozens of HR payroll and PEO services we’ve examined over the years. From multiple employee payment options to its diverse benefits plans, XcelHR exceeds expectations with its offerings.
In short, XcelHR is best for:
- Businesses with fewer than five employees: XcelHR can serve as your administrative services organization (ASO) if you don’t have enough employees to qualify for a PEO. You can get the advantages of a PEO minus a few features, even if you have only one employee.
- Employers looking for a wide range of benefits options: Not only does XcelHR offer enterprise-level benefits that small businesses don’t normally have access to, but it also provides nonstandard options that include auto and home insurance, pet insurance, telemedicine services, legal assistance, and travel and entertainment discounts for employees.
- Startups focused on building a company culture: From the kind of benefits you offer to the training and wellness programs you implement, XcelHR has options to help you establish a positive company culture.
- Manufacturing and government contracting: XcelHR works with government contractors and has tools and assistance for keeping up with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.
What We Don’t Recommend XcelHR For
- Large companies that have multiple HR experts on staff: If you have multiple HR personnel on staff, using XcelHR may be an unnecessary expense. If at least one is an HR generalist or higher and isn’t overworked, you could have all the expertise you need to manage HR compliance and administrative tasks. You’ll still need software to use in-house, though, so consider our top HR payroll software for suitable options.
- International businesses: XcelHR is for US businesses. If you are employing people in or from other nations, check out our guide to the best international payroll services.
Are you looking for something different?
Read our guide to the best PEO companies for small businesses to find a service or software that’s right for you. If you need more insight into how PEOs operate, check out our deep dive into PEOs and how they work.
XcelHR Top Alternatives
Small businesses that want easy and reasonably priced PEO services
Businesses that need HR and information technology (IT) tools with robust integrations
Growing businesses that want the expertise of a big PEO
Base monthly fees from
From $49 per employee
From $35 per employee
(includes payroll add-on)
Like most PEO companies, XcelHR doesn’t publish its pricing on its website. This lack of transparency prevented XcelHR from getting a perfect mark for pricing. You have to contact its sales team to discuss your requirements and request a quote. Note that XcelHR lets you choose the features you need, although some benefits require you to have a minimum number of workers in your business, such as the 20-employee minimum for its Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) administration solution.
XcelHR’s HR solutions and services are designed to automate and streamline processes, enabling business owners to focus on growing their company and spend less time handling day-to-day HR tasks. It scored perfectly for the HR administration features criterion due to the wide range of services including online onboarding and enrollment, training and leadership, compliance tools, and benefits in all 50 states. Let’s look at these tools.
XcelHR offers hire-to-retire tools that can start with recruiting and end with COBRA management. It helps you conduct background checks and pre-employment testing and provides onboarding solutions for new hires. With its team of HR professionals, you can ask for assistance in developing your company handbook and HR-related policies, facilitating workplace safety audits and inspections, and providing expert guidance in handling employment issues.
Training and performance management solutions are also available. Plus, you are granted access to learning sessions like discrimination and sexual harassment prevention training. XcelHR can even track employee skills, licenses, and certifications.
If you are a company-culture-focused business that aims to enhance employee loyalty and engagement, providing competitive benefits is a good way to show it. XcelHR not only offers Fortune 500-level health benefits plans at prices a small business can afford, but it also has a wide range of unique benefits plans that you can select for your employees. You can offer pet insurance, legal assistance, and employee discounts. Plus, XcelHR is the plan sponsor and trustee for 401(k) plans through Slavic. Thus, it handles everything from investing to managing the plans with employees.
XcelHR’s benefits offerings include:
- Medical—including opt-in for alternative virtual visits
- Dental—MetLife PPO solutions
- Life, accident, and long-term and short-term disability
- Critical illness
- Legal assistance
- Flexible spending account (FSA)
- Group accident insurance
- Employee assistance
- 401(k) thru Slavic
- Doctegrity Telemedicine—24/7 phone or video access to doctors
- Auto and home insurance
- Discount tickets for travel and entertainment
- Hospital indemnity
- Pet insurance
XcelHR’s employee portal, XcelerateHR, is available online and via mobile apps (for iOS and Android devices). Employees and contractors can access payroll information, HR-related forms, handbooks, and time tracking functions. It also lets employees manually scan and send documents.
Despite XcelHR lacking certification from the ESAC, it has been in business for more than 25 years and does a lot to help you ensure compliance with labor rules and regulations. Just a few functions it includes are:
- Policy development and documentation
- US Department of Labor (DOL) communication assistance
- Wage and hour claims
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) laws
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) regulations
- Equal employment opportunity (EEO) compliance
Finally, XcelHR not only provides workers’ compensation insurance but also helps you build a strong and safe workplace that’s OSHA-compliant. It even investigates and processes workers’ claims, establishes a reserve, and facilitates safety audits. Here are some of its services:
- Safety audit and inspection facilitating
- OSHA 300 log maintenance
- Return-to-work program facilitating and tracking
- Safety manual template
- Safety training library
- First report venue of injuries under workers’ compensation, workers’ comp negotiation and management, and claims administration
XcelHR’s payroll services include helping you get needed IRS documentation like W-4s, handling deductions, and automating the entire process, so you only need to check it each month for errors. It integrates with time-tracking software, accommodates any pay schedule, and pays employees via direct deposit, pay card, and check. It can also provide job costing and PTO reports.
It files and pays taxes in all 50 states and ensures you are compliant with federal, state, and local payroll tax laws. It also does your quarterly filings and withholdings. However, it is not an IRS-certified PEO.
If you want to consider other payroll solutions aside from PEOs, check out our best payroll services guide.
XcelHR scored a modest 3.13 out of 5 for this criterion because it lacked essential tools to help manage HR, including applicant tracking. It also doesn’t have its own time and attendance tool, only offering it via its partnership with TimeMD.
XcelHR helps in managing HR from recruitment to termination. This includes:
- Writing job descriptions
- Reviewing resumes
- Pre-employment testing
- Conducting phone interviews
- Background checks
- PTO policy administration
XcelHR has a safety training library, and its professionals can also provide the following training services:
- Supervisor training for termination procedures
- Sexual harassment prevention and discrimination training
- Supervisor training for conducting interviews
Unlike many PEOs, XcelHR is not certified by the ESAC, which is considered the gold standard for PEOs. This is the only thing preventing XcelHR from getting a perfect score in this criterion. On the brighter side, XcelHR has a wide range of reports including job costing, benefits and check summary, and employee deduction. Should you need a custom report for your business, you can request XcelHR to generate one for you.
One of XcelHR’s strengths is its ease of use. It has a dedicated representative for its customers, offers live phone support in case you need personalized assistance, and has how-to guides for minor concerns. What kept it from getting a perfect mark is its mobile app limitations and its lack of user review settings.
Here are some things that make XcelHR a breeze to use:
- Setup assistance for new clients
- Dedicated representatives
- Dated interface but easy to navigate
- How-to videos online
- Online and live resources and training
Once you get your plan with XcelHR, its reps will work with you on setup. While its interface is generally easy to navigate, it has some idiosyncrasies, like preferring all-caps in certain fields and scrolling down to the next pages of forms. Rather than a menu, you can find functions through the search bar, and some options are accessed by clicking on hyperlinks instead of drop-down menus. Nonetheless, it does offer how-to videos, online and live resources, and a dedicated representative.
XcelHR received an excellent rating of 4.13 out of 5 in our expert review. It has strong HR compliance features with reliable services that will help ensure smooth operations of your business. The system is intuitive to use and implementation is quick. If you decide to cancel its services, you should provide a 30-day written notice.
What Users Think About XcelHR
While XcelHR has many customer testimonials on its website from clients praising its service, there are very few up-to-date XcelHR reviews on third-party review sites as of this writing. We found only a couple on Trustpilot, wherein one (a 2020 reviewer) praised the healthcare plans and said it paid employees on time. The other (from 2019) complained that they had been assigned multiple HR reps and were not getting prompt replies.
XcelHR’s flexibility in everything, from features to compliance support, makes it a good choice for small businesses on a growth track. It does not list pricing, and the software is a little dated, but the range of HR tools, payroll services, and benefits is excellent. Sign up with XcelHR today to discuss your HR and PEO needs.