6 Best Payroll Outsourcing Companies for 2024


Sometimes, you just need someone to take a few things off your hands. Business activities like running payroll are, obviously, a bit more involved and sensitive than, say, having someone run your personal mail to the post office. That said, at a fundamental level, outsourcing payroll or leveraging HR software solutions are in many ways the same as hiring someone to do your yardwork.

The stakes may be higher, but you’re still trusting someone else to do a job as well — or perhaps even better — than you would, which means that you need to find a vendor that can be trusted and relied on.

This list will guide you through six of the top providers in payroll outsourcing and software tools, and we’ll offer advice on how to research and sift through your options to find the right one for you.

Top accounting software comparison

There are plenty of features, functionalities and benefits that a given business might need from their payroll support vendor. We’ve focused on just a few, to highlight some of the most common (and most commonly needed) answers to HR and payroll pain points.

Starting price PEO/GEO/EOR/AOR status Employee onboarding Employee benefits Employee satisfaction
Rippling Custom quote PEO and GEO Yes Yes Yes Visit Rippling
ADP TotalSource Custom quote PEO Yes Yes No Visit ADP
Paychex PEO Custom quote PEO Yes Yes No Visit Paychex
TriNet Custom quote PEO, GEO, EOR and AOR Yes Yes No Visit TriNet
OnPay $40/mo. + $6/person/mo. Software only Software only Yes No Visit OnPay
BambooHR Custom quote Software only Software only Yes Yes Visit BambooHR

Rippling: Best overall outsourced payroll service

Image: Rippling

Perhaps the most comprehensive HR and workforce management provider in the list, Rippling is a juggernaut in the industry (and rightly so). A market leader offering both software and outsourced services in the fields of HR, IT and finance, businesses could potentially entrust Rippling with a significant portion of internal infrastructure responsibilities.

Most relevant to our discussion here, Rippling offers solutions for both domestic and global payroll, benefits management and PEO services. That’s in addition to functionality covering recruitment and onboarding, headcount planning, learning management, performance management, compliance and even employee experience. Bottom line, Rippling has plenty on offer for those who need it.

Pricing

  • Contact Rippling for quote.

Features

  • Domestic and global payroll.
  • PEO, ASO and benefit management services.
  • Recruiting and talent management.
  • LMS functionality.
  • Time and attendance tracking.
  • Performance management.
  • Employee experience and engagement tools.

Pros

  • End-to-end HR functionality.
  • Outsourced services for those who need it, and software solutions for those who want it.
  • Supports and facilitates compliance efforts.
  • Global payroll across a large number of international locations.

Cons

  • Minimal pricing transparency.
  • No available free trial or free version.
  • Some users report higher-than-average prices with Rippling.

For more information, read the full Rippling review.

ADP TotalSource: Best for small businesses

ADP logo.
Image: ADP

As another major player in the HR and payroll space, ADP’s offerings are narrower in focus than Rippling’s, but they gain in depth what they lose in breadth. Known throughout the industry for their enterprise-grade services in HR support, ADP offers solutions to businesses ranging in size from one to over one thousand employees, all with the same level of functionality.

With HR outsourcing and PEO services, compliance support, and even AI-powered capabilities, ADP is a leading brand, and one to be reckoned with. And, with robust and customizable integration options, it’s well-suited to fitting alongside existing workflows and tech stacks.

Pricing

Features

  • Payroll software and payroll outsourcing.
  • Talent management.
  • HR and PEO services.
  • Benefit and insurance management.
  • Time and attendance tracking.
  • AI-enabled analytics and automations.

Pros

  • Direct, dedicated support from industry experts, including consultations.
  • Storyboard analytics, powered by AI.
  • LMS functionality baked in.
  • Compliance support and oversight.

Cons

  • Minimal pricing transparency.
  • Some users report limited or missing talent acquisition features (such as ATS support).
  • Limited customizability in dashboards.

For more information, read the full ADP review.

Paychex PEO: Best HR + payroll service

Paychex logo.
Image: Paychex

Paychex is yet another top name in payroll software, support and outsourcing. They have solutions for solopreneurs all the way up to enterprise-level organizations. And they cover needs ranging from hiring and onboarding to benefits to payroll and beyond. Put simply, the brand has a lot in common with the list entries above.

That said, it has at least one major claim to fame: exceptional outsourced HR services. In addition to their payroll tools and offerings, businesses can also offload nearly all of their HR responsibilities to Paychex, allowing them to handle practically everything.

Pricing

  • Contact Paychex for quote.

Features

  • Payroll for small, midsize and enterprise-level businesses.
  • ERTC service.
  • Employee benefits, including health insurance, HSA/FSA, retirement and more.
  • Time and attendance tracking.
  • Business insurance, including workers’ comp, cyber liability and more.

Pros

  • Hassle-free employee payroll.
  • Garnishments available with some subscription tiers.
  • Integration options for voice assistants, accounting software and more.
  • Tax filing included.
  • Plans are customizable.

Cons

  • Minimal pricing transparency.
  • Time tracking is technically a separate platform.
  • Some users report less than stellar customer support.

For more information, read the full Paychex review.

TriNet: Best for hiring and onboarding

Image: TriNet

TriNet leans hard on its talent acquisition solutions as a differentiating factor. It boasts many of the same offerings as the previous list entries (self-service software, outsourced HR solutions, etc.). And the brand brings significant value to the table in the form of risk mitigation and contractor management.

But TriNet’s bread and butter is the HR services, specifically finding, vetting and onboarding talent for their clients. And in a business ecosystem that’s as temperamental as it is now, having a trusted team to handle the hassle of bringing in new talent is an advantage indeed.

Pricing

  • Contact TriNet for quote.

Features

  • Domestic and global payroll.
  • Full PEO services, as well as self-service software for those who prefer it.
  • ATS, LMS, performance management, compensation benchmarking and more.
  • Support for contractors and global workforces.
  • Benefits management.

Pros

  • Payroll is simple and intuitive to use, even for self-service users.
  • Expense management helps more effectively manage cash flows.
  • Employee portal is convenient and easy to access.

Cons

  • Minimal pricing transparency.
  • Some users report less impressive customer support.
  • Less favorable selection of benefit providers.

For more information, read the full TriNet review.

OnPay: Best payroll software option

The OnPay logo.
Image: OnPay

The penultimate entry on the list, OnPay, is a software-only payroll solution, offering only self-service online portals. In other words, if you’re hoping to use a third-party vendor as your de facto HR department, OnPay is not the right pick. Despite this, OnPay’s software is surprisingly robust and makes a solid case for its use, all on its own.

What’s more, it’s the only entry on this list with any measure of pricing transparency. And with a single, straightforward pricing structure, you’ll always know how much you’ll be paying. So for businesses that just need a digital tool for their payroll, especially one with easy-to-anticipate costs, OnPay is a solid choice.

Pricing

  • OnPay only has one pricing model, charging $40 per month plus $6 per person per month.

Features

  • Software solutions for payroll and HR.
  • Offers a wide selection of employee benefits providers and packages.
  • Incredibly intuitive payroll interfaces, for both payroll teams and end users.
  • Reporting features, automated tax handling and plentiful accounting integration options.

Pros

  • Transparent, easy-to-understand pricing.
  • No cap on payroll runs.
  • Self-service employee portal.
  • Mobile app support.
  • Impressive library of HR resources and content.

Cons

  • Flat pricing means no discounts for larger organizations.
  • Integrations for PTO and attendance can be fickle.
  • Mobile app availability only on iOS.

For more information, read the full OnPay review.

BambooHR: Best employee experience

BambooHR logo.
Image: BambooHR

Our last list entry is a bit of a midpoint between software-only providers like OnPay and more full-service providers like the ones mentioned further up. BambooHR is an HR, payroll and benefits software platform. But they also offer extensive support and administrative services to help teams minimize the amount of work required internally to keep HR functions running.

One of their biggest advantages is their focus on employee experience from beginning to end. Their suite of offerings help teams keep a pulse on the employee journey, from candidate to coworker to former staff. With tools to help onboard, offboard and upskill team members, it’s one of the most robust platforms in the industry for organizations that want to collect staff feedback and use it to make improvements.

Pricing

  • Contact BambooHR for quote.

Features

  • Full-fledged HR software with automation, reporting, a mobile app and lots of integrations.
  • Tools for collecting feedback from candidates, employees and resigning staff.
  • Payroll, time tracking and benefits management add-ons.
  • Performance management functions to aid in performance reviews, assigning bonuses and more.

Pros

  • Incredibly user friendly for both end users and administrators.
  • Includes free trial for new subscribers.
  • Approval workflows are baked in for PTO and so forth.
  • Larger teams pay less per employee.

Cons

  • Minimal pricing transparency.
  • Some core features reserved for the premium plan (like ATS, phone support, etc.).
  • Benefits, time tracking and payroll are all add-on modules with additional costs.
  • No global payroll options.

For more information, read the full BambooHR review.

Key features of payroll solutions

First, a quick disclaimer: payroll solutions is a bit of a broad term, encompassing everything from outsourcing to full on co-employer status to just software tools. On top of that, there’s a lot of overlap between payroll stuff, HR stuff and workforce management stuff. So depending on just which slice of the pie you’re looking to snag, the features and functions you’ll be looking for will vary.

That said, most companies looking to solve their payroll woes have a number of things in common, and we’ve listed many of those core concerns here to help guide your search.

Payroll functionality

Let’s start with the most foundational concern in this discussion: “I need an easier way to pay my people.”

There are a few critical details that will determine what you’re looking for, and any provider who can’t meet those needs will be an immediate no-go. Here are the big ones:

  • Needing to pay people in different geopolitical locations.
  • Needing to pay different kinds of staff (W-2 employees, freelancers, commission, seasonal, etc.).
  • Needing to handle taxes, garnishments, workers’ insurance or similar concerns.
  • Needing to include, offer or integrate with benefits packages.

These concerns are also additive. Paying international freelancers is more complicated than paying domestic W-2 employees, and not every provider can, well, provide that. So start by clarifying what you need in this category, then build from there. If you can’t legally pay your crew, it’s not a solution — it’s a financial timebomb.

Outsourcing status

This category of features ties in closely to some of the payroll concerns. If you’re just using software, either the tool can pay your people or it can’t. Either way, you’re on the hook if something isn’t compliant.

With outsourced payroll services, there are different grades of involvement, and depending on what you’re signing up for, the service can help you stay compliant, offload liability or both. And there are a few terms in the industry to help you identify which is which and what needs they fill:

  • PEO (professional employer organization). These are usually “co-employers,” meaning they share both the responsibility of and liability for filling critical HR functions. Small and mid-sized companies who run their payroll, hiring paperwork, benefits admin and so on through a third party are usually using one of these.
  • GEO (global employment organization). Sometimes referred to as a “global PEO” or “international PEO,” these outfits do what PEOs do but are localized for external nationalities. Because labor laws are different in different countries, having someone handle things for overseas staff on their home turf can prevent plenty of compliance concerns.
  • EOR (employer of record). Where PEOs and GEOs are co-employers, EORs are the actual employer. They usually cover the same functions and services as PEOs, but their legal role is slightly different. They bear the full liability for payroll and benefits for staff in another country, including compliance to local laws.
  • AOR (agent of record). This type of outsourcing functions like an EOR but is specifically for freelance workers. Many nationalities have stringent regulations on contract work, and in some cases, this can effectively make hiring a contractor from overseas illegal. AORs help address this and enable you to contract and pay freelancers in that locality according to the relevant mandates.

There’s a fair amount of overlap here, obviously. Many providers will cover more than one of these functions, but may only label it with a single term (usually PEO). And, as always, B2B terms tend to be a little blurry regarding their dividing lines: You will likely hear one or more (or all) of these terms used differently, or perhaps even interchangeably.

Software support

These days, just about any service of this level of importance comes with some kind of software platform. It just makes things easier for everyone (at least in theory). Keep in mind, though, that the same concerns mentioned above also apply to software capabilities. Not all tools can do international payments or contract payments. Some can handle taxes just about everywhere while others have limited range.

For the best results, find a payroll software solution that doesn’t take much work to put the system in place. Bonus points if it comes with a cloud or mobile app that’s easy to use.

Employee and candidate experience

What kind of experience your staff has while working for you can have a major impact on some seemingly unrelated financial outcomes. For example, if turnover is high, you may have additional expenses tied to hiring, onboarding and offboarding staff. Sometimes that’s just par for the course in your industry. Other times, you can actually do something about it, if you can pinpoint what’s driving everyone out of their office chairs.

Many providers these days include either self-service tools or full-service offerings that help to solicit and analyze feedback from candidates, current employees and team members on their way out. And some systems tie this to Learning Management Systems (LMS), performance management and other functions for added benefit.

Benefits administration

For smaller outfits, benefits can be hard to come by. Growing teams often forego traditional benefits like health insurance and the like because of the costs involved in paying for them at so small a scale. Even if the company does offer benefits, those have to be managed properly — preferably in tandem with payroll so there’s not a bunch of extra manual accounting labor.

In an effort to accommodate for use cases like these, many providers offer access to benefits packages through their services and help you manage them just like a larger enterprise would.

How do I choose the best accounting software for my business?

Brands in this market have plenty of bells and whistles to display in their attempts to bring you to the table. But at the end of the day, what really matters are the answers to these three questions:

  • Does it meet our functional needs?
  • Does it fit our budget?
  • Does it make payroll easier or harder for us overall?

The right payroll solution will be one that provides positive answers for all three. If not, it’s best to keep looking.

Methodology

While writing this article, we researched the vendors and their websites, as well as customer reviews and ratings, to gain a full understanding of where each solution fits into the market landscape — and who they serve most effectively.



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