Insights into global expansion & employee retention

Published: August 2, 2023

What is a PEO and How It Can Boost Your Business in 2023?

Discover the power of Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) in optimizing HR functions. Leverage PEOs to elevate expertise, save time, and access cost-effective HR support.

Key Takeaways

  • Professional Employer Organizations serves as outsourced HR partners, providing businesses with an expansive range of HR-related services, including payroll management, benefits administration, compliance, and risk management.
  • It provides elevated HR expertise, offer time efficiency and cost savings and provide an elevated employee experience, allowing businesses to focus attention on strategic business goals and core operations.
  • When exploring a partnership, businesses must understand their industry-specific compliance requirements, workforce size, HR needs, and growth appetite to assess if this HR Solution is the right fit for their business.

As businesses navigate the dynamic and ever-changing business landscape, HR outsourcing firms like Professional Employer Organizations have emerged as prominent allies for businesses looking to optimise and improve their HR functions. Infact by 2026, the HR outsourcing market is expected to grow by $10.90 billion. But what is a PEO? Let’s dive into the PEO meaning and how they operate.

A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) acts as an outsourced HR partner to businesses without formalised inhouse HR functions by forming a co-employment agreement. They work closely with companies to manage a variety of HR-related functions, including payroll and payroll tax management, benefits administration, HR compliance, risk management and employee relations. By partnering with this type of service, businesses can focus on their core operations without the worry of managing the more intricate aspects of HR.

How They Shape Modern Businesses 

Businesses competing in the modern marketplace face the challenge of sustaining their competitive edge while effortlessly managing critical HR-related functions. Professional Employer Organizations have emerged to solve this challenge, taking on administrative-heavy HR tasks by forming strategic partnerships with businesses.

As an agnostic service provider, a Professional Employer Organization assists companies of all sizes, including early-stage businesses and startups, right through to long-standing enterprise business, providing access to cost-effective expert HR support and resources.

6 Benefit for Employers and Employees

The benefits of partnering with this type of organization expands beyond traditional HR services, with PEO’s offering dynamic support in 6 areas to both employees and employers. Let’s explore the benefits in more detail. 

  1. Elevated HR expertise: businesses gain access to top-tier HR knowledge and expertise, helping them comply with the latest and ever-evolving HR regulations.
  2. Time efficiency: Businesses have more time to focus on the strategic and operational aspects of their business, by handing over admin and time-intensive HR tasks. 
  3. Cost savings: They leverage the collective power of employees from various client companies, to achieve economies of scale that unlock reduced rates for employee benefits, including unemployment insurance, health insurance, and other HR-focused services.
  4. Compliance and risk mitigation: PEOs reduce the risk of HR-related penalties and lawsuits by expertly guiding businesses through the intricacies of HR compliance.
  5. Elevated employee experience: Professional Employer Organizations streamline the onboarding journey providing an enhanced employee experience that includes access to dedicated HR support and superior benefits packages.
  6. Access to technology and HR-focused resources: They enhance workforce management and analytics by providing business with access to cutting-edge HR software and tools.  

Decoding the Co-Employment Relationship

Co-employment is the lifeblood of a Professional Employer Organisation and client companies work with a PEO to handover HR-related functions and processes by entering into a joint arrangement.

In a co-employment setup, the Professional Employer Organization and client company share HR-related responsibilities for employees. It takes ownership of key HR functions including payroll, benefits administration, tax compliance and risk management, while the client company focuses on strategic business operations and decision making. By outsourcing the expertise of a PEO, businesses can navigate the complexities of HR management, while keeping control of operations and the strategic direction of the business.

The 5 Essential Roles and Responsibilities of a PEO

By entering into a co-employment agreement, PEO’s take on all HR-admin focused roles and responsibilities on behalf of a company, to provide extensive HR support. Some of the core responsibilities include:

  1. Payroll Processing: Professional Employer Organizations manage all aspects of payroll administration, including payroll tax to ensure employees are paid on time and accurately while accounting for the necessary tax withholdings and deductions.
  2. Benefits Administration: By pooling together talent from multiple client organizations, they leverage their bargaining power to provide employees with access to superior benefits packages, including unemployment insurance, health insurance, retirement plans, and other employee perks. 
  3. HR Compliance: They keep abreast with the ever-changing HR landscape, including changes to HR laws and regulations. With this knowledge in tow, they ensure clients stay compliant with federal, state, and local employment laws.
  4. Risk Management: PEOs help client companies navigate employment related risks, like compensation claims and unemployment insurance, with expensive knowledge and expertise. 
  5. Employee Management: By shouldering the client company’s HR responsibilities, Professional Employer Organization manage all employee relations, including HR support, offering employee guidance, and mediating workplace issues to create a positive work environment.

PEO vs. Employee Leasing and HR Outsourcing: Understanding the Differences

While the concepts “PEO,” “employee leasing,” and “HR outsourcing” can be easily confused there are definitive differences that exist between them. Here’s what you need to know.

A Professional Employer Organization

A PEO shares employer responsibilities with a client company though a co-employment relationship. The organization is directly responsible for managing HR functions and compliance on behalf of the client company
Employee Leasing
Also referred to as “staff leasing”, employee leasing typically involves providing workers to a client company for a contractually agreed upon fee.  The client company maintains control over day-to-day employee relations.
HR Outsourcing
HR outsourcing involves contracting specific HR functions out to external HR service providers, without forming a shared co-employment Specific HR-related functions are subcontracted to specialised HR firms on an ad-hoc basis. 
Woman explaining the what is a PEO to an employee

4 Transformative Reasons to Partner with a Professional Employer Organization

  1. HR Expertise and Support: By teaming up with a Professional Employer Organization, businesses open the door to a world of HR expertise and support. They employ in-house HR professionals who continuously stay up to date with the ever-evolving employment laws and regulations, to ensure businesses retain their compliance status. They offer expert guidance, taking on all HR related responsibilities including solving workplace conflicts. They also equip businesses with all the resources they need to navigate complex HR challenges, including employee handbooks. 
  2. The key to business success is the ability to attract and retain top talent. Because of a PEOs ability to achieve economies of scale, they are able to provide employees with competitive benefits, including better rates for health insurance and retirement plans, that often surpass those offered by large enterprise businesses. Through this partnership small and mid-sized businesses can now provide competitive benefits packages that boost employee satisfaction and loyalty.
  3. Payroll Processing and Tax Compliance: Managing payroll and ensuring tax compliance can be a daunting task when resources are limited. Teaming up with a PEO can streamline the process of payroll management and ensure tax withholdings and deductions are accurately calculated, reducing the administrative burden and risk of error.
  4. Risk Management and Compliance Assistance: Managing employment-related risks and ensuring compliance can be demanding for any business. With a Professional Employer Organization as a dedicated HR partner, risk management is taken care of, including worker’s compensation, claims administration, and unemployment insurance management. They also reduce the risk of legal costs by adhering to employment laws and keeping businesses compliant.

Related Source: PEO vs GEO: What’s the Best Choice for Your Business?

How PEOs Empower Different Business Types

  • Startups and Entrepreneurs: As startups and entrepreneurs launch and scale their ventures, they face distinct challenges including the amount of time available to dedicate to core business operations. Human resources and people management is the one department that can rapidly starve startups and entrepreneurs of the valuable time needed to successfully manage core business operations. It is the ideal partner for businesses in this stage of growth, taking on the responsibility of all HR functions including payroll, benefits and employee relations, allowing startups to scale efficiently and focus their time on the areas that matter.
  • Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs): They often find relevance among Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). This is because small and mid-sized businesses frequently operate with limited resources and may not have access to in-house HR departments for workforce management. SMBs can lean on the wealth of HR expertise and support of the PEO, without incurring the cost of hiring a full in-house HR team. Thet help SMBs navigate all HR-related functions, including providing access to extensive benefits packages, while ensuring compliance with country-specific employment laws, allowing them to focus on their core business operations and drive growth.
  • Growing Companies Expanding Operations: Growing companies need to navigate the challenges of managing an expanding workforce. Partnering with a Professional Employer Organization can be the perfect solution for companies in this growth stage, allowing them to offload their HR responsibilities and focus on continued business growth. Professional Employer Organizations are particularly valuable because of their agility and ability to adapt to a business’s changing needs. PEOs support companies entering new markets by managing payroll and compliance requirements so they can dedicate valuable time to strategic business goals without the weight of HR administrative burdens. 

4 Potential Drawbacks to Know

As businesses seek out the services of a PEO for HR-related support and benefits, understanding the potential pitfalls and limitations will help businesses make informed decisions about the potential partnership.

  1. Loss of Full Control: Businesses relinquish some level of control over HR functions and businesses are required to align their HR policies with the organization framework for a successful partnership.
  2. Flexibility Concerns: In some instances, the standard HR practices offered by a PEO may not align with certain business types. 
  3. Shared Liability: While they help to reduce employment risks, by entering into a co-employment relationship, PEOs and businesses will share liability should any HR related disputes arise. 
  4. Cost Considerations: They offer cost savings through their ability to achieve economies of scale, but there are still costs tied to their services that businesses need to take into consideration. It is important to weigh up the cost of using a Professional Employer Organization vs hiring an in-house HR team. 

How to Assess if It is Right for Your Business

While partnerships with a Professional Employer Organization can be advantageous for a variety of businesses across industries, they may not be suitable for every business or sector. Before entering into a co-employment partnership, businesses should consider four factors to assess suitability.

  1. Industry-specific compliance: Some businesses operate in highly regulated industries and sectors and businesses should ensure that the it demonstrates a deep understanding of industry specific regulations before entering into a co-employment partnership. Some industries have complex and industry-specific compliance requirements. 
  2. Workforce size: Because theyoffer economies of scale their solutions can be more cost-effective for mid-to large sized businesses with a sizable workforce. Less established businesses with smaller workforces need to conduct a cost vs benefit analysis to determine whether the benefit of partnering with this type of organization exceeds the corresponding costs.
  3. HR needs and complexity: PEO partnerships can be beneficial for businesses that operate in Industries with diverse HR needs and intricate employee structures. The wealth of expertise that a the organization offers can support businesses in navigating the complex HR landscape with ease. 
  4. Company growth path: Companies with a clear path for growth can benefit from PEO partnerships, because of their ability to offer expanding businesses HR-related support that facilitates growth. 

PEOs and Employment Law: Ensuring Compliance and Best Practices

Professional Employer Organizations help businesses stay legally compliant and up to date with employment regulations. Serving as co-employers, PEOs shoulder the responsibility for vital HR functions, making it crucial for them to stay up to date with continuously changing landscape of employment laws and regulations.

The organization use multiple tactics to ensure compliance and adhere to industry best practices:

  • Regular Policy Updates: By monitoring changes to employments laws, they continuously adapt HR policies to align with the latest regulations.
  • HR Audits: They regularly work to find gaps and areas of non-compliance within their client companies by conducting regular HR audits and suggesting corrective strategies.
  • Risk Mitigation: PEOs protect against legal disputes by offering guidance and helping implement risk-management strategies.
  • Employee Training: They may offer training programs to educate employees and managers about relevant employment laws and best practices.
  • Documentation and Record Keeping: They assist businesses in maintaining accurate and up-to-date records, which are critical for demonstrating compliance during audits or legal proceedings.
  • HR Policy Development: a Professional Employer Organization can help create customized HR policies that align with industry standards and regulatory requirements.

They offer a transformative solution for businesses seeking to optimize HR functions and boost overall productivity. By leveraging the expertise and support of PEOs, employers can provide a seamless and rewarding experience for their employees while focusing on strategic growth. The organization in today’s business landscape cannot be understated, as they continue to redefine how companies manage their workforce, drive efficiency, and thrive in an increasingly competitive market.

PEO vs EOR: Why Choose Playroll as Your EOR Partner

While a PEO and an EOR a similar, there are distinct differences. Unlike a Professional Employer Organization where the client company enters into a co-employment agreement, an Employer of Record becomes the official employer of employees on behalf of the client company. The client company, however, does not relinquish control over the employees’ day-to-day duties as would be seen with a PEO partnership. Here’s why an Employer of Record like Playroll might be the best move for your business.

  1. Expand globally with ease: Playroll supports your hiring needs in 180+ countries. Leveraging established local entities and expert legal know-how, Playroll guides your business through unique labour laws, cultural nuances and local hiring practices, putting your business on the path to successful expansion and making hiring worldwide as breeze!
  2. Unlock payroll efficiency: With Playroll you can hire, pay and manage your global workforce in one place, through a single bulk payment. We take care of all the hard stuff like tax deductions, pensions, local currencies benefits and government fees, so you can focus on what matters most- the business of your business.
  3. Benefit from enhanced flexibility and seamless scalability: With Playroll you can hire right away! Playroll enables you to quickly onboard and offboard employees, allowing you to adapt to changing market needs!
  4. Real humans providing dedicated customer support: All Playroll customers are provided dedicated customer success managers with 24/7 support – we put our money where our mouth is. We are a customer centric platform, meaning your employees and their issues are our primary objective, ensuring employee issue resolution within hours not days.

Professional Employer Organization Guide vs EOR Pricing Plan

Professional Employer Organizations FAQs

What type of organization is a PEO?

It is a type of outsourcing firm that specializes in providing comprehensive human resource (HR) solutions to businesses. They enter into a co-employment relationship with client companies to shoulder certain employer responsibilities.

Is a Professional Employer Organization self-regulated?

The regulation can vary depending on the jurisdiction and country where they operate.

Is it better to go with a global or local PEO?

The decision to go with a global or local depends on the specific needs and objectives of the business.

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