The 6 Best PEO Services and How to Decide

When running a small business, you’ll have areas of expertise and others that overwhelm you. Maybe you’ve picked up a knack for communicating efficiently with clients, but your invoice tracking is a mess. This is one area that, if problematic when you’re small, can become a serious barrier to growth.

Human resources is another.

After all, when you’re growing, you’re likely adding employees, compounding the challenge of covering all bases.

The best PEO services can help you with this. PEO (Professional Employer Organization) services handle important items like generating payroll, managing employee benefits, maintaining compliance standards, and others, all on an outsourced basis.

Here are the six best PEO services available for SMBs.

The best PEO services: Reviews

ADP TotalSource

ADP TotalSource is made for medium-sized to larger organizations that have some concerns about risk management and following OSHA guidelines. That doesn’t mean TotalSource won’t work for smaller companies, but its feature set may be a bit more than an SMB with a simple setup requires.

ADP TotalSource delivers excellent results. TotalSource is an extremely popular PEO, and it has a large client base. Its excellent customer service results help to explain its popularity.

For those who want to be able to perform some payroll management tasks through a mobile app, ADP TotalSource’s app is one of the best on the market.


  • Excellent customer service
  • Better-than-average mobile app
  • A host of add-ons, as well as powerful basics


  • May be too feature-rich for smaller organizations


  • Estimated at $125 to $300 per employee covered per month (all pricing done through custom quotes)


One of the biggest advantages of going with Insperity is that it offers extremely flexible PEO services. If you have some special needs in your small business, Insperity will be able to adjust its service offerings to match the majority of those needs. It also has multiple experts available to give you extra services.

With Insperity, you can start with a couple of basic services. Then, as your business grows, you can easily add more services to match your new requirements.

For those small businesses interested in using one of the best PEO services to obtain health insurance coverage, Insperity may be a bit of a disappointment, because it only has one type of policy available.


  • Easy to customize the service
  • Will grow with you as your business expands
  • Strong customer service responsiveness


  • Only has one health care insurance policy choice


  • Estimated at $150 to $300 per employee covered per month (all pricing done through custom quotes)


Justworks is one of the newer entrants into the PEO services marketplace, and it has used this to its advantage, creating a service that focuses more on using the latest technologies rather than the older, less efficient ways of running a PEO.

You can become a Justworks client with as few as two employees, so it works well for many different sizes of businesses. For those businesses that especially need help with payroll, Justworks does an excellent job on the calculations for you, which will save you quite a bit of time.

Pricing is straightforward and reasonable with Justworks. This service spells out exactly what it will provide at each pricing tier upfront, as opposed to most PEOs, which generally require a customized price.


  • Excellent payroll generation services
  • Easy-to-understand, lower-than-average pricing
  • Works with as few as two employees


  • Few advanced features, such as risk management services


  • Basic: $39 to $49 per employee per month
  • Plus: $79 to $99

Oasis Outsourcing

Extremely small businesses that want to be able to operate on a footing a bit more like a large company will appreciate what’s included with Oasis Outsourcing.

Oasis has a variety of services available, and it also provides expert advice in numerous areas of business, giving your small business access to things it likely couldn’t receive without the help of the PEO. Customer service is outstanding with Oasis.

If you choose to make use of all of these extra features, you can expect your cost to rise quickly, though. And you will have to agree to a one-year contract to hire Oasis. However, there’s no minimum number of employees you must have to use the service.


  • Outstanding service, even for the smallest of organizations
  • No minimum number of employees required
  • Access to experts


  • Pricey
  • Must agree to a long term contract


  • Estimated at $100 to $400 per employee covered per month (all pricing done through custom quotes)


For extremely small organizations that don’t want to commit to a long term arrangement with a PEO, TriNet does not require employee minimums and does not require a contract. You only have to give one month notice to cancel your service.

TriNet also has a host of industry-specific experts available for your small business, which will help you stand on a similar footing to larger organizations. Just bear in mind that if you need expert service quite often, your monthly cost goes up quickly.

Another important point is the lack of flexibility: you can’t pick and choose the services you think you’ll need. All features come as part of the package.


  • Wide range of features
  • Experts available to help your small business operate like a larger one
  • No minimum number of users required


  • Add-on services can become pricey
  • Maybe too many features for some businesses


  • Estimated at $100 to $500 per employee covered per month (all pricing done through custom quotes)


For those who want to try to save as much money as possible, XcelHR offers a few different payment options, including paying a percentage of your monthly payroll as a fee. Depending on your needs and business structure, this may save you quite a bit of money each month.

XcelHR does not have employee minimums, so it’s perfect for even the smallest organizations. It doesn’t offer a large number of add-on services, other than risk management, but it hits all the basics and does it well.


  • Great for just the basics
  • Several payment options available
  • No employee minimums


  • Few advanced or added features


  • Estimated at $50 to $125 per employee covered per month (all pricing done through custom quotes)

How to pick your PEO service

As you compare PEO services, think about the areas where your small business is struggling. Then focus on the PEOs that have strengths in those particular areas. You don’t want to pay for services you won’t use, but you need your service to include the must-haves.

Here are a few particularly important criteria:

Customer service

Unlike with some services you outsource for your small business, you’re probably going to need to access customer service on a regular basis with a PEO. The types of functions that the best PEO services offer often necessitate speaking with the vendor.

Before signing up for a PEO service, ask the service to give you a guarantee on how quickly it will respond to phone calls, e-mails, or chat sessions. Figure out if you receive a certain number of customer service requests each month as part of the service, or if you must pay extra fees for each request.


Depending on the business you’re in, you might want a PEO that can customize its offering to your particular needs. For example, if you need certain types of reports that the PEO normally doesn’t offer, does the software support them?

Expert support

One PEO function that SMBs can often use is advice from experts. Perhaps your business has a significant amount of risk for lawsuits or health concerns for employees. Maybe you need help with securing workers’ compensation insurance.

The right PEO can help you with these issues, giving you built-in expertise you’d pay for anywhere else.

Benefits packages

When you’re growing and trying to attract great employees to your small business, offering an excellent employee benefits package allows you to compete with larger organizations.

The best PEOs should help you put together an excellent benefits package that won’t break your business’ budget.

Additionally, if you’d like to offer your employees some non-standard benefits, such as a wellness benefit, ask the PEO vendors you’re considering if they carry this benefit. The PEO may have some ideas about non-standard benefits you could add.

Portal interface

Your PEO should have a portal to help you manage all of your business’ HR-related functions, like benefits and payroll.

Because you’ll be interacting with this portal on a regular basis, it needs to have an interface that you enjoy using. It needs to be simple enough to save you time, but also robust enough to support all your business-critical tasks in one place.

Summary: Finding the best PEO for your business

Ultimately, any PEO you select needs to save you time and hassle. Don’t forget to focus on the basics that the PEO offers. Although it’s easy to get overwhelmed comparing all the different features across PEO candidates, if the PEO can’t handle your basic needs, those extras will be worthless to you.

With these time-consuming, but extremely important, HR tasks handed off to PEO services, you’ll have more time to focus on the core aspects of your business and a far better chance of sustaining growth.

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Bryan Wise
Bryan Wise,
Former VP of IT at GitLab

Incredible companies use Nira