Best Professional Employer Organizations (PEO) — October 2021

A complete guide to finding, selecting & implementing the right PEO partner

Author Phil Strazzulla, HR Tech Expert, Harvard MBA, Finance and Software Nerd
Phil Strazzulla,HR Tech Expert, Harvard MBA, Finance and Software Nerd - Oct 19, 2021

Did you know that, regardless of your company’s size, you could have a full-fledged HR department and offer a host of employee benefits that help improve recruiting and retention? While this might seem impossible for small companies, it’s not. PEOs, or Professional Employer Organizations, are vendors that help smaller companies leverage the power of an HR department to minimize employment risk and labor costs, offer employee benefits they otherwise can’t afford, take care of payroll and more.

The best PEOs serve as employers of record and bring a lot of “back-office” expertise to the table — plus, they work with hundreds of companies at a time and leverage economies of scale to get better group rates on benefits packages that you in turn get to offer your employees.

By following a co-employment model, you and a PEO share certain employer responsibilities. For example, PEOs cover all your HR and administrative work while you manage your business operations and people. In the end, you save time and money, and get to focus more on growing your business - without giving up control over your workforce (a common misconception).

To help you better understand PEOs and which one is right for your company, we put together the following guide that breaks down everything you need to know and consider, from who they are, what they provide, how much they cost, and more. Let’s begin.

We spend hundreds of hours researching the best HR and recruiting software so you don’t have to.  We never take money from vendors during our research phase and rely heavily on practitioners and experts to help us recommend the right software.  However we may earn a fee if you click on vendor links on this page.

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A Quick Breakdown: Best Professional Employer Organizations

Aside from being a global payroll software vendor and EOR provider, Papaya also lets you manage your global PEO through the same platform.
Justworks is a simple and friendly platform for many an HR need. Their payroll solution is stellar and their known for great customer service, so that could make a great PEO for you.
TriNet provides SMBs with full-service HR solutions that are tailored to their industry. Their expertise range from human capital and benefits to risk mitigation, compliance, and payroll.
Insperity boasts a full-service HR solution that's always tailored to your business. Their Fortune-500-level benefits include medical, dental, and vision coverage.
Gusto’s payroll and benefits software is dead simple to use for HR and employees. They also offer accounting advising services.
ADP is an industry leader in HR by market share and so worth a demo if you are considering adding a PEO.
Similar to ADP, PayChex is one of the gorillas in this space that warrants your attention if you want to be comprehensive about the best PEO offerings.

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Top Professional Employer Organizations

We track thousands of HRTech solutions, these are the best PEOs per our research and expert council as of October 2021

Insperity

Review

Insperity’s Workforce Optimization product allows small and medium-sized companies to have stellar payroll, benefits, on-boarding and everything else you’d expect from one of our best PEOs.

Insperity

Stats

  • 70+ offices across the USA
  • NSP listed
  • Founded in 1986
  • 25% of their clients are in the middle market
  • Their median client tenure is 5 years

Insperity

Pricing

Insperity's PEO cost will vary depending on the benefits you needs and your employee count.

Best For

Insperity can be a good PEO for organizations with 5 to 149 employees, or those with 150 to 1,000.

Worth Checking Out:

ADP

Review

Best known for their payroll offering, ADP offers a suite of other HCM products including a PEO called ADP TotalSource. ADP is known for over delivering on customer success, something that has made them a behemoth in the HR world.

ADP

Stats

  • 860,000+ clients around the world

ADP

Pricing

ADP's PEO pricing is not disclosed on their website, since these vary from one company to another. That being said, similar services tend to range from $120 to $160 per employee, per month. Also, according to ADP's own research, PEO costs average 2-12% of wages.

Best For

ADPs PEO offering is geared towards SMBs (less than 999 employees) in over 180 countries.

Worth Checking Out:

PapayaGlobal

Review

Papaya Global is on a mission to revolutionize global payroll management. This international people & payroll platform is one of the most complete solutions for having employees in multiple countries. They can also act as a PEO, or connect you with one, in Canada, Australia, the UK, China, Japan, and more.

For hundreds of others countries, Ttheir platform can be used for hiring, onboarding, employee management, cross-border payments, and they have a global equity management tool. This last tool helps with offering equity to employees as a part of their compensation, regardless of where they are.

PapayaGlobal

Stats

  • Payroll for 140+ countries
  • $1.3B total payroll under management
  • Used by over 400 companies
  • 99% customer retention rate

PapayaGlobal

Pricing

Processing international payroll with Papaya Global is possible via the four following plans:

  • Payroll: They’ll manage your entire payroll process for one all-inclusive fee per employee, per month. Depending on your operation, this fee will fall between $20 and $100 USD.
  • Global EOR: Papaya Global’s in-country partners function as employers of record, being responsible for payroll, workforce management, benefits, and compliance, and more. You can still stay up-to-date on everything through the platform, and this plan is between $770 and $1000 per employee per month.
  • Contractor Management & IC Compliance: Particular services are outsourced to a domestic or foreign contractor, for periods of rapid growth and the need to reduce labor costs. This plan starts at $25 per employee per pay cycle.
  • Payroll Intelligence Suite: This plan lets you consolidate all workforce and payroll data from all your operations into a single dashboard, priced at $250 for an annual plan or $320 quarterly per location.

Best For

Companies that would like to manage a varied approach to global hiring and payroll in the same platform.

Worth Checking Out:

TriNet

Review

TriNet is easily one of the largest players in the world of professional employment organizations with 340,000 lives covered and 17,500+ customers. They offer a high level of customer service, and a variety of products you’d expect from an organization with their scale.

TriNet

Stats

  • 30+ years operating (founded in 1988)

TriNet

Pricing

Pricing and plans are not disclosed upfront by this company

Best For

Small to medium-sized businesses

Worth Checking Out:

TriNet is the only vendor that offers their PEO by vertical in order to meet the unique needs of Life Sciences, Tech, etc.

PayChex

Review

Paychex is another massive player in the general human resources space that has a PEO offering for small businesses. If you’re looking for a partner that will come on site to help setup your payroll, benefits, onboarding, etc - then take a look at Paychex.

PayChex

Stats

  • 200+ compliance experts: federal, state, and local regulations
  • 600+ HR professionals averaging 8 years of training and expertise
  • Over 100 locations served in the US & Europe
  • PayChex is used to pay 1 out of every 12 American private sector employees

PayChex

Pricing

PayChex's pricing is not provided on their website, but the process to get a quote is pretty quick and simple.

Best For

SMBs in search of a good PEO and perhaps payroll services.

Worth Checking Out:

Justworks

Review

With 2,500 customers, JustWorks is one of the larger players in the PEO space, and offers best-in-class technology that allows everyone from HR to new employees to seamlessly access and use their offering.

Justworks

Stats

  • Founded in 2012
  • 600+ employees

Justworks

Pricing

Justworks offers competitive and transparent pricing, but it's best to reach out for a personalized quote on their PEO offering. It is worth noting, however, that their plans tend to be flexible, growing or shrinking with your company.

Best For

Justworks is mainly for small or medium-sized businesses. Their plans can accommodate organizations with less than 25 employees or slightly more than 175.

Worth Checking Out:

Justworks is one of the newer entrants to this space which means they have a modern user interface that’s easy for employees to use.

Gusto

Review

Gusto isn’t a PEO - but we wanted to include them in this list because if you’re a small business looking at PEOs, you may want to check out Gusto as well.  They have a simple to use payroll and benefits platform designed for smaller companies.

Gusto

Stats

  • 90% of customers said switching to Gusto was an easy process
  • 3 out of 4 customers say Gusto makes compliance easier

Gusto

Pricing

Gusto's pricing starts with their Concierge plan. This includes the full-service payroll for all 50 states of the US and starts at $12 per person per month plus a $149 monthly base price. As you move forward, Gusto's plans become more expensive but offer things like benefits and document management.

Best For

Worth Checking Out:

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Final Advice on PEOs

At the end of the day PEOs can help alleviate a lot of the administrative tasks that are required when running a business, so you have more time to focus on growing successful teams — and your bottom line.

If your company fits the criteria we’ve outlined here, it’s time to pick a few PEOs and schedule demos to find the one that’s right for you.

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