Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus convallis sem tellus, vitae egestas felis vestibule ut.

Error message details.

Reuse Permissions

Request permission to republish or redistribute SHRM content and materials.

What is a PEO? Exploring Its Role in HR Outsourcing

A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) partners with businesses, essentially co-employing staff to manage critical HR tasks. This collaboration allows businesses to outsource complex employee management areas such as benefits, payroll, workers' compensation and tax compliance.

By teaming up with a PEO, companies can streamline their human resources operations, ensuring efficient handling of essential employee-related responsibilities. This setup not only simplifies HR processes but also aids in compliance and risk management, making it a strategic choice for businesses looking to optimize their workforce management.

Outsourcing HR Functions Through a PEO

PEOs typically serve as a professional employer of their clients' employees. The client company reports its wages under the PEO's federal employer identification number (FEIN), and employee liability shifts to the PEO. Employers gain economies of scale by having more benefits options, sometimes at lower rates.

Depending on the PEO and the contract, a few or all of the HR functions can be outsourced. An administrative services outsourcing (ASO) agreement provides options for companies that are not interested in co-employment but want some of the outsourcing benefits.

Advantages of Partnering With a PEO

There can be significant advantages of a PEO, especially for a small employer that may not have the breadth of HR expertise or systems capabilities for functions such as payroll and HRIS, or the time and resources available to focus on many of the transactional HR functions.

Key HR Functions Managed by PEOs

  • Benefits administration.
  • Recruiting and hiring.
  • Payroll administration.
  • Unemployment administration.
  • Workers' compensation administration.
  • Compliance assistance.
  • Drug testing programs.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act administration.

The Downsides of Using a PEO

While PEOs offer numerous benefits, some disadvantages might include the following:

  • Loss of control of essential processes and people.
  • An outside company's influence on your culture.
  • Diminished value of internal HR department.
  • Lack of control and security over employee paperwork.
  • A loss of institutional knowledge.
  • Security issues with the vendor's system.
  • Resistance from employees.

Choosing the right PEO involves weighing these pros and cons to determine the best fit for your business' specific needs and priorities.


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.