Doing business on the West Coast?

Ah, California. Land of sunshine, opportunity and HR risks. If you're doing business there, you'’e probably only in it for the first two.

Many optimistic business owners don't realize that one reason for the immense amount of talent in California is the employee-favoring nature of the state laws and requirements. Even with the best intentions, a business that doesn't properly meet those standards can suffer penalty fees, delays and in rare cases even be shutdown. Not having proper worker's compensation alone can net you a $100,000 fine.

You've probably guessed it: a PEO can take these risks out of the equation and let you focus on hiring top talent.  Think of a PEO as an "insurance" — and unlike insurance, advantages like insurance and HR savings roll in whether something bad happens or not.

Think of PEOs as professional rule-followers: the best ones have years of experience within a state and have staff dedicated to understanding how old and new laws apply to your benefits administration,  HR infrastructure, tax payments, employee rights, employee education and more. And on top of that, they'll bring you sizable savings on health insurance and worker's comp.

So for businesses in the Golden State, who are the best PEOs? Here's our top 5.

Please note that due to how PEOs specialize in different client types, this is not a ranked list. Finding out which one best suits your need is as simple as a ten-minute call with Dinsmore/Steele — our form is the only one you need to fill out.

Year founded: 1990
Health carrier: Aetna
Top pick for small-to-midsize businesses not looking to expand and wanting a reliable long term HR/benefits partner.

CoAdvantage offers a trustworthy, modern service that is well-suited for companies wanting a "place and forget" PEO solution. Their HR and benefits programs are comprehensive and they'll even accommodate sole props — a potential lifesaver for consultants or start-ups in single-owner stealth mode.

Year founded: 1988
Health carrier: United Health Corp/Aetna/Blue Cross Blue Shield/Kaiser Permanente
Top pick for those looking for a PEO partner that potential employees/investors will have heard about and trust.

If there's one PEO you've heard of, it'll probably be TriNet. Publicly-traded and one of the first organizations to bring the practice of using PEOs into the public spotlight, TriNet also offers a solid, well-rounded experience gives employers a single access point for all their HR needs. Their widespread usage means a familiarity with just about every industry.

Year founded: 2012
Health carrier: Aetna
Best known for its modern style and intuitive software.

As its more modern name would suggest, Justworks is a fresh newcomer to the field, but don't let their age fool you. In addition to the expected services and benefits programs, Justworks offers a versatile proprietary software solution for managing employees and HR details that is refreshing and modern. Thanks to their software, their approach to HR is a bit more hands-off than other full-service PEOs but the savings and increased control are preferable for some entrepreneurs. And they'll gladly step in and provide support if you need it.

Read our in-depth review of Justworks here.

Year founded: 1986
Health carrier: UHC
Top choice for those wanting a straightforward solution that  gets the job done without unnecessary frills.

Previously known as Aministaff, you may have heard of Insperity or seen their logo as they're a title sponsor of the PGA Champions Tour. Publicly traded since 1997, their in California is cemented by 4 locations in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles, meaning that your regional branches will enjoy local service and representation.

ADP Total Source
Year founded: 1949
Health carrier: United Health Corp/Aetna/Blue Cross Blue Shield
Best known for more than six decades of HR experience.

Mostly known now for their payroll software, ADP has also developed a robust PEO that services large, national clients. Integrating decades of payroll and HR experience into a one-stop PEO solution, ADPTS is a publicly-traded firm that provides a consistently good service and prices made possible by its size.

So how do you select a PEO?

Due to their prevalence, California recognizes the value of PEOs and provides employers some useful guidelines for selection:

  • Verify the PEO has a certificate of insurance

  • Verify exactly what services the PEO will offer (not all offer benefits, for instance). Meet the people who provide the services

  • Check the company's references. Make sure they are paying payroll taxes

  • See if the company is a member of the California or National Association of Professional Employer Organizations

  • Look at the cancellation process for the PEO and your business

Working with Dinsmore/Steele, you can have the peace of mind knowing that already we do all the above for all PEOs in our network as well as facilitate a one-on-one conversation with a member of the PEO as well as one of our employees. We act as an informed partner who asks the right questions and works towards better rates than those you'd enjoy going directly to the PEO and negotiating on your own.

You're looking for a PEO to save you time and money. Dinsmore/Steele helps you enjoy those benefits even earlier in the process by reducing it to just one form and negotiating better-than-market prices from our partners. Your perfect PEO solution is just a few minutes away.

Dinsmore/Steele saves you the hassle by asking for your information just once and getting competitive quotes from over 400 of the world's best PEOs. And on top of the added convenience, PEOs give us better rates because they know there's competition for the quality clients Dinsmore/Steele brings them.