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Our PEO service picks for 2023

By: DAN KENITZ | Fact Checked By: JAMIE OSTROE | Updated: January 27, 2023

Professional employer organizations (PEO) help businesses with handling payroll issues, HR compliance, employee benefits, or, in some cases, even HIPAA compliance. A PEO will take on “co-employer” status, instantly providing the ability to offer benefits, handle payroll and tax compliance, and a host of other issues that come with hiring. In this review, we browsed some of the top PEO services you can peruse as you consider taking on a partner in your company’s hiring journey.

Our Top Picks

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

PEO Company Reviews

We reviewed some of the top vendors with the best reputations online and ranked them according to several distinct factors. We weighed the comprehensiveness of their features, examined their pricing structures, double-checked their brand reputation online, and made sure they offered quality customer support. (Note: check out our methodology section for more details on how we did it).

More importantly, we did it all with an eye on which PEO software might be a good fit for different types of companies. Here’s what we came up with.

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
  • Difficulties with HSA/FSA
  • Customer support issues

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 Compliant – Not every PEO software can claim to be HIPAA compliant, but Rippling is—making it easy to use across different industries without missing a beat.
  • Payroll Reporting – Need to see the status of your payroll issues 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.

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).

remote logo

Remote – Best PEO Service for Global Companies

Not every software option is all about the U.S. You may have employees overseas. Enter Remote, a Global HR solutions PEO software company that offers self-onboarding that makes it easier for employees to join, no matter where they may be in the world.

  • Self-onboarding minimizes centralization
  • Offers local compliance reporting
  • Flat pricing structure
  • Payroll and benefits easy to find
  • Well-reputed customer service
  • Cost per employee high
  • Lack of onboarding transparency

Remote features

  • Self-Onboarding – One of the key features to activate a global company PEO system, self-onboarding means you don’t have to be physically present to get new employees up and running on your system.
  • Benefits Dashboard – With employees in different countries, benefits can be increasingly complex—not every government’s retirement accounts are the same. The dashboard helps bring this complexity under control.
  • Tax and Government Compliance – Because Remote is aimed at a global workforce, it places special emphasis on making sure that your payroll and tax issues are in accordance with local laws and regulations.
  • Self-Service Portal – What if you have an employee in another time zone having an issue? The self-service portal helps employees feel in the loop without constantly having to go through your main office.
  • Deduction Management – With so many tax complications arising from running a global team, you’ll find that features like Deduction Management can make quick work of understanding payroll issues.

What markets does Remote serve?

You can certainly use Remote in one country, enjoy its robust features across multiple states and industries, and enjoy a highly capable platform. But Remote’s specialty is in working across multiple countries, as the name suggests—its offerings for a global workforce were the most comprehensive on our list. If you have a global, complex team to manage, you won’t go wrong with Remote.

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.

papaya global logo

Papaya Global – Best PEO for Nonprofits

Search Papaya Global’s website, and you’ll see that it aims to be a global HR solution for companies with a wide reach. So where do nonprofits enter the picture? We found a list of features and even case studies that highlight how well Papaya’s services line up with the needs of nonprofits. Here’s why.

  • Flexible pricing, per-employee
  • Cross-border payment for global workforce
  • Simple HR analytics dashboard
  • Users had invoicing troubles
  • Interface not as intuitive as others

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 a nonprofit company moving.
  • Fraud Management – Sometimes, people might target nonprofits for fraud. Anti-fraud features built in to the Papaya Global system help you stave off these issues.
  • Onboarding – The all-in-one onboarding features (payroll, 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?

Nonprofits, global remote teams, 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.

deel logo

Deel – Best PEO 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

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’s starting out with PEO software and wants to ensure that their startup is taken care of.

Compare the best PEO companies side-by-side

Software Name Why we picked It Starting price for cheapest plan Highlights
Rippling Best PEO for Growing Companies $8/month/user Flexible pricing
Remote Best for global companies $299/employee/month Easily manage remote teams
Justworks Best for small businesses $59/employee/month Simple interface
Papaya Global Best for nonprofits $49/contract/month Comprehensive features
Deel Best for startups $20/employee/month Easy for getting started

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 who 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? A PEO platform can offer many HR features that will give your company the legitimacy it needs with new hires.

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.

Professional Employer Organization 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?
An EOR is an employer of record. For PEOs, they will serve as a “co-employer,” meaning they can offer payroll services and retirement benefits to make your organization more competitive in the hiring marketplace. The EOR is instead a legal substitute for your employee-facing activities as a business.

Who is a good fit for PEO?
Growing companies that need to establish a legitimate hiring presence will often work with PEO services 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 PEO software.

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.