We may earn money when you click on links to our partners. Advertiser Disclosure

Our PEO service picks for 2023

By: DAN KENITZ | Fact Checked By: JAMIE OSTROE | Updated: August 28, 2023

Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) empower businesses and startups to streamline HR functions, stay compliant with evolving regulations, and offer competitive employee benefits. With the right PEO, you can focus more on your core operations and fuel your growth in an increasingly complex business landscape. Our guide covers pricing, pros and cons, and insights from our HR experts to help you choose the best PEO for your business.

Our Top Picks

  1. Papaya Global – Best for International Teams
  2. Deel – Best for Startups
  3. Remote – Best for Global Talent
  4. Rippling – Best PEO for Growing Companies
  5. Justworks – Best PEO for Small Business

PEO Company Reviews

To help you find the right solution for your business, our researchers and experts analyzed 23 popular providers before narrowing it down to our top picks. We chose to highlight vendors that offer comprehensive HR solutions, competitive pricing, excellent customer reviews, and quality customer support.

It’s worth noting that PEOs typically serve businesses that already have established entities and are looking to outsource HR functions. Employer of Record (EOR) services, on the other hand, are often used by companies that want to hire employees without establishing a formal business entity, especially in foreign markets. Our review includes leading providers in the space that are best for various use cases and business types to help you find the one that’s right for you. Jump to our methodology section for more details on our selection process.

papaya global logo

Papaya Global – Best for International Teams

Papaya Global is a global payroll and payments solution for companies with a wide reach. We found a comprehensive list of features and even case studies that highlight how well Papaya’s services line up with the needs of businesses with a global workforce. Here’s how.

  • Flexible pricing, per-employee
  • Cross-border payment for global workforce
  • Simple HR analytics dashboard
  • User interface not always intuitive

Schedule Demo Visit Papaya Global’s website.

Papaya Global features

  • Compliance Management – Given its global reach, Papaya Global’s emphasis on compliance management pays off, dealing with third-party payments easily, which keeps your business moving.
  • Fraud Management – Anti-fraud features built into the Papaya Global system help you stave off data breaches and keep payroll information secure.
  • Onboarding – The all-in-one onboarding features for your workers (payroll employees, contractors, etc., all go to the same place) help add simplicity to what can sometimes feel like a complicated regulatory process.
  • Self-Service Portals – Good for global remote teams, but also ideal for getting people up and running without feeling like you have to manage everything from a centralized location.

What markets does Papaya Global serve?

Global remote teams, nonprofits, and U.S.-based markets — we don’t want to pigeonhole Papaya Global into any one of them. But in searching for an especially nonprofit-friendly solution, we found that the combination of quality features and sensible pricing made Papaya Global a natural choice here.

Read our full Papaya Global review

deel logo

Deel – Best for Startups

Although not exclusively for startups, Deel’s combination of startup-friendly pricing and features like adding hires from a new country “within minutes” make for good software for any ambitious company that’s just getting off the ground.

  • Quick, effective payroll management
  • Per-contract pricing
  • Tax compliance included
  • Customer support received poor reviews
  • Lack of onboarding transparency

Get Started Visit Deel’s website.

Deel features

  • Compliance Management – If you’re a startup and you don’t want compliance issues derailing your company, you want compliance management as robust as Deel’s. They offer signing and editing contracts within their dashboard, for example, working in conjunction with their reviews of local laws to ensure compliance.
  • Compliance Documentation – Hiring in a new country for the first time? Deel offers some robust global hiring features that help it rival other options on this list, including documentation that’s easy to review for every new hire.
  • Self-Service Portal – What if your startup begins achieving fast growth? The Self-Service Portal makes the software responsive to employee needs without clogging up your HR pipeline.
  • Payroll Reporting – Stay on top of your payroll needs with a simple payroll dashboard that keeps you in the loop with what’s going out, what you’re expected to pay, and the cash flow needed to maintain your current workforce.

What markets does Deel serve?

Like many of the top PEO providers, you’ll find that Deel is more versatile than its selection on this list might make it seem. There’s no reason you can’t use it at more complicated levels of employment well beyond the startup stage. But the combination of features and pricing make it a great pick for anyone who wants to ensure that their startup is taken care of.

Read our full Deel review

remote logo

Remote – Best for Global Talent

Not all software solutions cater exclusively to the U.S. market. For businesses with employees spread across the globe, Remote emerges as the ideal Global HR solutions software company. It offers self-onboarding to simplify the process for employees joining from any part of the world.

  • Streamlined self-onboarding
  • Provides local compliance reporting
  • Features a flat pricing structure
  • Easy access to payroll and benefits
  • Highly regarded customer service
  • Elevated cost per employee
  • Limited customization

Schedule Demo Visit Remote’s website.

Remote features

  • Self-Onboarding – One of Remote’s key features, self-onboarding, means you can start onboarding new employees instantly without delay.
  • Benefits Included – Managing employee benefits across multiple countries can be challenging due to varying government regulations. Remote simplifies this process, managing all health insurance, retirement savings, and more.
  • Tax and Government Compliance – Remote prioritizes compliance with local laws and regulations for payroll and tax issues, wherever you and your employees are located.
  • Self-Service Portal – Your employees can access their employment information and paystubs, track PTO, and submit expense reimbursement requests without contacting you or your team.
  • Contractor Management – Remote helps businesses manage their freelance and contract workers, streamlining payments and ensuring compliance with local labor laws around the world.
  • Global HR Support – Remote provides access to HR experts with experience in various international labor markets, offering guidance on best practices and helping businesses navigate complex HR scenarios across different countries.

What markets does Remote serve?

While Remote can be effectively used within a single country, spanning multiple states and industries, its true strength lies in supporting businesses operating across multiple countries. As the name suggests, Remote’s offerings for a global workforce are among the most comprehensive available. For organizations managing complex, international teams, Remote is a perfect choice.

Read our full Remote review

rippling logo

Rippling – Best PEO for Growing Companies

Rippling is a young company (around since only 2016), but their team has a lot of experience in growth. A lot of Rippling’s leadership team have worked at big-name companies like Apple and Amazon. Their idea: create a PEO solution for companies that are managing the best of business problems: rapid growth.

  • Automatic reports with handy HR displays
  • Easy-to-implement
  • Highly detailed payroll reporting
  • Sensible, straightforward pricing
  • No free trial

Rippling features

  • Direct Deposit – Interruptions to direct deposit can mean time-costly issues like having to print out manual checks. Rippling’s Direct Deposit feature, however, got rave reviews from customers.
  • Compliance Management – Complying with payroll laws, especially across multiple states, can grow increasingly complex as you grow, but Rippling’s compliance management features were robust and intuitive.
  • Benefits Dashboard – Review the benefits available at your company, adding visibility to what you offer employees and what actions you’ve taken to contribute to those benefits.
  • HIPAA Compliance – Not every PEO software can claim to be HIPAA compliant, but Rippling can help with this — making it easy to use across different industries without missing a beat. Rippling doesn’t house any confidential patient information, medical records, or anything that would fall under HIPAA regulations. Since they are only processing a customer’s employee information, although they are not a HIPAA-covered entity, they can help customers with their HIPAA compliance by assisting with single sign-on and encrypting their computers.
  • Payroll Reporting – Need to see the status of your payroll at a glance? Rippling’s Payroll Reporting offered plenty of visibility and simplicity to what can sometimes seem like an overly complex list of information to gather.
  • Compliance – With constant changes in labor laws, staying compliant isn’t easy — especially with employees in multiple states. And if a customer is using a PEO, chances are they don’t have a large HR team with the bandwidth to help either. Rippling helps customers stay on top of HR compliance with state and local law alerts, sexual harassment training, living handbook builder, and HR experts to help you with your most complex employment questions.
  • Flexibility – One day, a customer might outgrow their need for a PEO. If that day comes, you’ll want to avoid the disruptive, multi-month switching headache that other PEOs demand. With Rippling, customers can seamlessly move to large group benefits while keeping the software they love.

What markets does Rippling serve?

We chose to list Rippling under “growing companies” because it’s so versatile. The pricing makes sense for smaller companies, but the features help add simplicity to extremely complex employment situations. This makes Rippling an ideal combination of PEO software that’s great for small companies, great for medium companies, and great for large companies—and every stage of growth between these key milestones. (Note: check under our pricing comparison to see why Rippling makes sense for growing companies).

Read our full Rippling review

justworks logo

Justworks – Best PEO for Small Business

As you might expect from the name, Justworks is all about simplicity—the ability to get a company up and running on PEO software with minimal muss and fuss. They even offer a connected option so you can onboard with their team, eliminating the need to handle technical work yourself. (Note: you do need a minimum of two employees at your business to use Justworks).

  • Educational approach to onboarding
  • Comprehensive compliance features
  • Simple W2 preparation
  • On the expensive side
  • Could use more native reporting

Justworks features

  • Guided onboarding – If you’re new to using a PEO, you may find this process intimidating—simply because you haven’t done it before. Justworks offers assisted onboarding to reduce confusion.
  • W2 Preparation – If you’re a new company working with your first hires, this can get complicated in a hurry. We also consider Justworks as the best PEO for startups thanks to how it helps you get started on its platform with issues like W2 preparation.
  • Self-Service Portal – Justworks offers self-service portals that make it ideal for a remote team. This may seem like an unnecessary feature as you’re starting out, but a growing business may need to hire remote workers as it grows.
  • Time-Tracking – Offering time tracking for hourly pay reports and project management, there’s some flexibility in how you use Justworks to get work done—not just pay people for their work.

What markets does Justworks serve?

Although Justworks doesn’t embrace the complexities of the offerings on our list so far (i.e., HIPAA compliance), we found that this simple, straightforward solution can be a great option for any company that’s just starting out. If you’re doing your first W2 preparation with early hires, for example, onboarding with Justworks will feel like the right choice.

Read our full Justworks Review.

Compare the best PEO companies side-by-side

Software Name Why we picked It Starting price for cheapest plan Highlights
Papaya Global Best for International Teams $49/contract/month Comprehensive features
Deel Best for Startups $20/employee/month Easy for getting started
Remote Best for Global Talent $299/employee/month Easily manage remote teams
Rippling Best PEO for Growing Companies $8/month/user Flexible pricing
Justworks Best for Small Businesses $59/employee/month Simple interface
Krystal Speed, HR Expert

A Note From Our HR Expert

“As an HR consultant, I love working alongside my client’s PEO. They handle a lot of the administrative, compliance, and reporting functions of HR, while I can really dig in and think about long-term people strategy and planning and strengthening the company culture. This type of blended partnership works well,”

Krystal Speed, CEO, Your HR Strategist

What is a professional employer organization?

PEOs are human resource outsourcing organizations that make it easier for companies to handle issues like benefits and payroll. What distinguishes PEO from HR, or human resources? PEO is all about the entire experience of payroll, hiring, benefits, and generally the economics and finances of employment, while HR may also deal with issues that directly affect how the company operates as a matter of policy. And a PEO is an organization to which a company might outsource this work, whereas HR can often serve in-house.

Who uses PEO services?

Companies need technology to keep an eye on what’s going on with their employees. HR professionals keep their eyes on PEO services, but anyone in C-level management—CEOs, CFOs, and the like—will find that it helps them keep a gauge on their obligations to their employees. From an organizational level, companies of all types can use PEO:

  • Small to large private companies
  • Public and government institutions
  • Global companies running remote teams
  • Nonprofit organizations

What does a PEO do?

A PEO can help organizations with tax filings and obligations, payroll, HR administration, retirement benefits management, compliance and risk management, and a host of other issues that relate to hiring and employing people. A PEO can help smaller companies offer big-corporation benefits even if they only have two employees, making your small company more competitive with the bigger organizations when hiring talent. It can also provide self-service options for employees, so they can log in and check on their current benefits and reports and better understand their position within the company. Think of PEO software as the employee-facing end of how your business runs.

Benefits of using a PEO company

Using a PEO does more than just simplify and save time—though it does those very well. Let’s point out some specific benefits to using PEO software:

  • Ensuring HR and regulatory compliance, often in different states and countries. This helps you ensure that your company is meeting its obligations to employees, even though those obligations can be complicated and differ from one regulatory environment to the next.
  • Detailing your financial obligations for payroll and benefits package, often with a reporting dashboard (which is why we include these dashboards as an important feature). This is critical for C-level executives who are using this information for project and budgetary planning.
  • New employee onboarding and processing, making it easier to hire more people as your company grows. This is especially important for small businesses and startups that are quickly growing and don’t want onboarding new talent to be an obstruction to effective growth.
  • HR administration. Don’t have much of an HR infrastructure to speak of? If you’re not quite ready to hire an HR manager, a PEO platform can offer many HR features that will give your company the legitimacy it needs with new hires.

“Being able to offer great benefits can help a small business attract high-quality talent. A PEO makes that possible – and at a reasonable price,”

How much do PEO services cost?

On our list, we typically found that PEO services charged by the employee/user—but there was also a surprising lack of transparency with some options that didn’t end up on our final list. PEO services come with highly customizable pricing, which is why you might see a typical price of $20 to $50 per employee per month—but it can run the gamut up to much higher prices.

For instance, Rippling’s low cost of $8/month/user was our favorite pricing on the list, while Remote’s $299/employee/month seemed much more prohibitive—though the services on offer are a bit different. Expect anything within this price range as you explore the PEO services right for your organization.

Here’s a real number example: in a recent survey, users told us they pay anywhere from $700 a month to $30,000 a month for their PEO software. These are from two employees using the software up to 300. And that pricing seems accurate. For the company paying $700 a month with two employees using it, they pay around $350 per person per month. The company that pays $30,000 a month for 300 people to use the software comes to roughly $100 per user per month.

PEO Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What companies use a PEO?

Any type of company can use a PEO—especially the more people you hire. On our list, we found that Justworks, for example, would work with companies with at least two employees. We came across a wide range of clients and customers in our research, from nonprofit organizations to senior HR leaders at private companies.

What does a professional employer organization do?

A PEO is an organization that offers outsourced HR services to help your company offer the same benefits and advantages that big companies can offer. Think of them as friendly partners who help you in your role as a burgeoning employer.

What is the difference between a PEO and EOR?

As a company, you can use either a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) or an Employer of Record (EOR) to outsource specific tasks related to your employees. However, each offers unique roles and responsibilities.

A PEO is a firm that provides comprehensive HR solutions for small and mid-sized businesses. You can contract with a PEO to assume responsibilities and provide employee benefits, payroll services, workers’ compensation, recruiting, risk/safety management, and training and development. By entering into a contract, a PEO hires your employees, becoming their employer of record for tax and insurance purposes – a practice known as co-employment.

On the other hand, an EOR serves as the official employer for tax purposes while your employee works at your company. Like a PEO, an EOR handles your employee payroll, benefits, taxes, insurance, and other HR responsibilities.

The critical difference between an EOR and a PEO lies in the employment relationship. With an EOR, there’s no co-employment arrangement. The EOR is the official employer, and your company, where employees perform their work, becomes the EOR’s client.

Who is a good fit for PEO?

Growing companies that need to establish a legitimate hiring presence will often work with a PEO for payroll and retirement benefits, making them more competitive with larger companies with enormous HR budgets. This streamlines the hiring process and payroll reporting and makes life easier for your company. If that sounds like your company, you’re probably a good fit for a PEO. Just make sure you identify a service that will grow with your business.

One PEO user we recently surveyed recommends, “Think five years from now and plan for the number of employees/contractors you anticipate hiring.”

How we chose the best PEO companies

In curating this list of the best PEO software companies, we ran through a master vendor list of about two dozen offerings. We then whittled that down to the best 15 companies, which we looked at more closely, rating them for a variety of categories, including:

  • Features. How comprehensive were features like compliance management or HIPAA compliance? We selected five core features to give us an idea of the breadth of what each PEO solution had to offer.
  • Pricing and transparency. Our rating went beyond dollars and cents. We also explored whether a company offered free trials, offered pricing transparency, or structured its pricing in a way that would make sense to its target market.
  • Customer support. We looked at the customer support features, including everything from chat features to online documentation for getting set up, ultimately using a 1-5 rating to gauge which companies were more likely to offer user-friendly support.
  • Brand reputation. How well-regarded is the brand online? We took this into account, using online reviews as a double-check to ensure that the PEO solutions we vetted had good reputations online.