A lot of people don’t really need HR outsourcing–they need the right HR or payroll software.

Solutions like Gusto and Rippling automate many HR tasks like onboarding and payroll, handle compliance for you, and much much more. You will have to click a few buttons and do a few things yourself, but they simplify everything, even if you’re not an HR-pro.

It’s what we use and it takes us less than 5 minutes to run payroll, onboard new employees, and enroll them in benefits. Using HR software can often FEEL like outsourcing, even though it’s not–I highly recommend checking into one of these first. You’ll save some money and learn crucial skills along the way.

If you’ve tried that route and are still sure you want to outsource some or all of your HR activities, you’re in the right place.

The Best HR Outsourcing Companies–Our Top Recommendations

Rippling and Gusto are our favorite payroll and HR solutions for US-based employees. Papaya Global and Deel are great platforms for international payroll and HR. None of them are outsourcing providers, but they may be a better fit for you.

For true HR outsourcing, finding the right HR partner requires talking to them and making sure you’re both a good fit for each other. I recommend you treat it like hiring someone to your team. Unfortunately, I can’t do that for you, but I can give you a list of options that I’ve pre-vetted so you have a place to start.

You can’t go wrong with:

  • Paychex — A dedicated HR pro to add to your team
  • Insperity — For small businesses building HR from scratch
  • TriNet — Full-service HR outsourcing for midsize businesses
  • ADP — High-level strategy and consulting for large teams
  • Paysquare — HR outsourcing for international businesses

There’s also another way to offload HR activities–PEO providers. With these types of agreements, the provider becomes a co-employer and handles all of the HR, onboarding, payroll, compliance, and benefits activities for you. All you have to do is manage actual work day-to-day.

I don’t recommend PEOs for most businesses because they’re expensive and they require you to forfeit control over your processes.

It sounds similar to HR outsourcing, but the co-employment model is the difference. With true HR outsourcing, you remain the sole employer working with a third-party, similar to hiring a contractor.

They work within your systems (or help you set them up) instead of the other way around.

If you’re in a high-risk industry or really want HR to be hands-off, check out our favorite PEO providers to learn more.

Paychex — Get a Dedicated HR Pro to Add To Your Team

Paychex company logo.

Whether you find yourself in a sticky situation, have questions, or need help building out your HR department, Paychex offers HR consulting services that give you access to a dedicated HR professional.

Rather than doing the work for you, Paychex offers personalized guidance and 1:1 support so you never have to go through anything or any decision alone. From compliance and company culture to hiring, payroll, employee training, and benefits, there’s nothing they can’t handle.

But it goes further than that. You’ll also get ongoing support in whatever form you need.

Think of Paychex as a direct extension of your team–a true, dedicated partner to help you at any time, through anything.

Aside from its consulting services, Paychex has a user-friendly HR platform (called Paychex Flex) you’ll be able to use to build out your systems, run payroll, manage compliance, and anything else you need to do if you don’t already have HR software.

It’s true expertise is in payroll and making it easy to manage even the most complex payroll structures. Whether you have a mixed workforce of contractors and full-time employees, unique payment cycles beyond bi-monthly paychecks, employees who want to be paid via prepaid debit cards, or something else, the Paychex platform handles it all with ease.

Insperity — For Small Businesses Building HR From Scratch

Insperity company logo.

If you’ve been getting by with no HR team whatsoever, or only have one or two people managing it all, Insperity can help you turn what you’re already doing into established processes, systems, and a full department to support your team.

You can choose a la carte services, like payroll processing, accounting, expense reports, distributing W-2s, benefits administration, employee verification, or training if you only need help in a few areas. Alternatively, you can bundle multiple services or get it all together and truly build out your HR machine with Insperity as your partner.

They can also help with liability insurance, workers’ compensation, and other areas of risk management plus compliance for things like unemployment claims and government reporting.

Whether you need help building out your company handbook, creating policies, or with ongoing tasks, Insperity’s got you covered.

When you’re ready to manage everything on your own, Insperity can help you recruit and hire the right team plus seamlessly transfer control back to your business.

With more than three decades of expertise under its belt and over 90 offices across the country, Insperity’s a top consideration if you’re starting small and want to build up.

TriNet — Full-Service HR Outsourcing for Midsize Businesses

TriNet Logo

TriNet’s been around for a long time. It’s what I call a dinosaur in the HR world–it’s large, takes up a lot of space, but is also really slow in comparison to smaller, more agile companies.

However, that’s what makes it the perfect fit for midsize businesses looking for a partner who can help with one-off activities, consulting, and strategy as they grow. In particular, TriNet partners with some of the most competitive benefits providers on the market, which is a great way for midsize businesses to attract top talent and keep them around.

It can help you access premium providers for health, dental, vision, life, disability, retirement, and transit insurance along with a massive list of voluntary benefits. They even offer pet insurance options for our non-human friends.

But benefits aren’t all they help with. From general HR consulting to payroll processing, employee retention, performance management, risk mitigation, and audits, TriNet knows a thing or two about HR because it’s seen a thing or two.

One of its most interesting offerings is Team Accelerator, which exists to help you build stronger teams.

It identifies how employees think, feel, and behave. From there, it helps you develop and implement a roadmap to make sure you’ve got all the strengths you need in the right places.

ADP — High-Level Strategy and Consulting for Large Teams

ADP company logo.

ADP offers a full-service suite of HR software and solutions. There are literally dozens of different ADP products–it’s a testament of its vast history and incredibly wide range of customers.

As a business looking for help, it’s overwhelming. However, no one else on the market compares to the level of experience ADP has in the space.

Which… is exactly what makes them an excellent fit for high-level strategy and consulting. If someone at the company hasn’t helped another business through whatever you’re going through, they’ve likely seen a very similar situation. That experience is critical for large businesses with massive teams depending on them.

You can’t afford to make risky decisions or cut corners–you need someone who knows what’s going on and can help your existing team navigate whatever comes your way.

Whether you want to revamp your payroll system, offer better benefits, rebuild your entire machine from scratch, or restructure your organization, ADP’s a great option with more than enough experience to rely on.

Paysquare — HR Outsourcing for International Businesses

Paysquare logo

If you have employees in countries outside the US, none of the outsourcing services above will be able to help–as you know, payroll get very complicated very quickly when you move beyond a single country.

Paysquare, however, specializes in international operations, specifically payroll, global compliance, and HR.

Whether you need ongoing help running payroll, onboarding international hires, setting up PTO systems and policies, offboarding, and ensuring your always in compliance with tax laws or higher-level consulting, Paysquare can do it all.

However, they’ll also do you one better by coaching your in-house team and making sure everyone knows what’s going on.

If you’re operating in more than one country, Paysquare’s definitely worth a closer look.

How to Choose the Best HR Outsourcing Service For Your Business

Before you choose an HR outsourcing partner, make sure you actually need one. Many people don’t, they’re just using the wrong software or trying to piece together multiple solutions. Both of those situations make things more time-consuming and harder than they need to be.

But if you’re sure you need help, I can only get you so far. All the providers I recommended above have excellent reputations, proven track records, and glowing testimonials. The best partner for you depends on a lot of factors. If you treat it like hiring a new employee, you’ll get a good understanding of whether or not they’re a good fit after you talk to them yourself.

To help you judge a good fit, pay close attention and ask a lot of questions around the following things once you get them on the phone.

Communication and Collaboration Style

It’s important to understand how you’ll work together and how you’ll be able to communicate with each other. This is probably one of the most critical factors to understand before you make any decisions.

You should choose a service that matches your communication preferences so there’s no additional friction.

Some questions you should ask include:

  • Will my employees be able to talk to you?
  • Will there be one point of contact I can talk to directly or will I need to go through a standard support line?
  • Can I reach you via live chat or text?
  • Who are the people I’ll be working with? What are their names?
  • How much of my assigned team’s time will be dedicated to my company?

These will give you a good idea of what the collaborative aspect of this will look like. Some companies will simply do the tasks you’ve agreed to and send you what you need with limited contact. Others will be more open to open communication.

Crystal-Clear Expectations in Writing

Make sure everyone on both sides of the table understands what their responsibilities are. This seems like a no brainer, but there’s nothing worse than getting into something, paying a lot of money for it, and not getting what you expected.

HR outsourcing companies can do a lot of different things for you in varying capacities. Some will perform the tasks, some will advise your team while they do the task, others will be more of a consulting type of relationship.

The following questions can help:

  • What specific services will you be doing?
  • What do you need from my team in order to do those activities?
  • What are my responsibilities?
  • Where exactly is my budget going?

Before you sign anything, make sure every detail is on paper with everyone’s sign off.

Your Current HR Maturity

This is closely related to the above. The partner you choose should understand where your HR capabilities are at so they know what you need.

If you’re established and already have multiple in-house HR professionals, you’ll probably know a lot about what you need. Smaller businesses who are just getting started will need more guidance at the beginning.

Either way, make sure everyone is transparent. This is the only way to ensure a strong working relationship.

Best HR Outsourcing Services: Your Top Questions Answered