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Compare the Top Rated Payroll Companies - 2021 Best & Most Popular Payroll Services

If you have employees, you have payroll. And, if you have payroll, you've likely considered hiring a payroll company. Today's payroll services do a lot more than cut checks. If you choose, they'll help you manage employee time, handle payroll taxes, take care of W-2s and 1099s at the end of the year, and much more.

Of course, there are fees attached to the various services provided. That's why it's important to determine which services you actually need before taking on that additional expense. In this article, we look at the most popular payroll companies and describe the types of services they provide.

The Benefits of Using a Payroll Service

You don't have to use a payroll service but they do offer a variety of benefits for any size business. After all, payroll is a time-consuming task, one where mistakes are easy to make and costly to remedy. Most payroll services assume the liability for any errors. They can afford to, because they have the training and expertise needed to ensure accurate calculations as regards payroll taxes as well as deductions for benefits.

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It can also be cheaper to hire a payroll service than it is to employ someone internally. The service doesn't take vacation, call out sick, or require benefits. Payroll services employ experts, people whose entire job is payroll. They're on top of regulatory changes and understand local and federal statute as it pertains to paying your employees. This can be especially beneficial for companies that have employees in multiple states (and the associated tax liabilities).

What Do Payroll Companies Offer?

Payroll companies provide a variety of services. Some have flat packages while others offer more of an a la carte setup that lets you choose the services your business needs. The most common payroll service features include:

  • Payroll processing: Includes tracking time worked, pay rate, shift differentials, overtime, PTO, and more to determine the correct amount to be paid to each employee. Also deducts taxes, social security, benefits, and more. Payment may be via paper check, direct deposit, or debit card (not all providers offer all three options).
  • Payroll taxes: The service may withhold payroll taxes as well as file and pay quarterly payroll taxes to both state and federal agencies. This service may also include issuing W-2s and 1099s at the end of the year.
  • Manage PTO: This includes sick and vacation hour accrual, time used, and yearly rollover.
  • Government reporting: The service may include reporting new hires to the government.
  • HR support: Some payroll providers offer a full suite of HR services, including creating employee manuals, onboarding new hires, writing job descriptions, and ensuring compliance with federal and local labor laws.
  • Software integration: Many payroll companies use software that integrates with other systems, such as HR, accounting, and time and attendance.
  • Data and analytics: Run a variety of payroll reports to help determine staffing, costs, and more.
  • Employee access: Most providers offer a portal where employees can access the system to view pay stubs, make changes to benefits, update personal information, and view PTO balances.
  • Remote access: Cloud-based systems allow you to access them from any connected device, including smartphones and tablets.

Top Payroll Companies

You have a lot of options when it comes to outsourcing payroll. The following companies are the 11 most popular options available in 2019.

  • ADP: Probably the most well-known name in payroll, ADP offers customizable packages to suit any type or size of business. Payment options include check, direct deposit, and electronic pay cards. Choose as many or as few features as you want, all the way to full HR management.
  • Ceridian: This cloud-based payroll provider offers a wide array of services via its Dayforce software. The platform options include benefits, HR management, and talent acquisition.
  • Gusto: Another cloud-based provider offering payroll, tax calculations and payments, reporting, and more. Gusto integrates with a variety of HR systems and softwares.
  • Intuit: Specializing in smaller businesses, Intuit offers three levels of payroll services. Tier one is straight payroll processing. The next level includes some tax services, and the final tier is their full-service option.
  • JustWorks: Since launching in 2012, JustWorks has specialized in processing payroll for small and growing businesses. They also offer external payment management, data analytics, and reporting.
  • Namely: This full-service provider offers automated taxes, including W-2 and 1099 generation. Namely also provides dedicated customer support and a full suite of HR products, including talent management and benefits.
  • Paychex: This is a cloud-based provider offering payroll services to all types and sizes of business, with an employee portal, payroll tax services, and mobile access. You can also opt for employee benefit administration and HR support.
  • Paycor: Another mobile provider that allows you to view and approve payroll before processing is complete. Paycor sends alerts regarding potential issues and offers additional HR support.
  • SurePayroll: Services include processing payroll taxes, 401(k) administration, and accounting assistance. Designed for small businesses, SurePayroll even has options for households with employees, such as nannies and landscapers.
  • UltiPro: This software system lets you design a payroll model, access analytics and reporting, and receive automatic delivery of federal and local tax updates. You can access UltiPro from any device and the service integrates with a variety of softwares.
  • Xero: Payroll processing options include direct deposit or physical checks, with taxes filed and paid via Xero. Employers can track employee time and approve PTO requests while employees can view pay stubs, request PTO, and submit timesheets.

What to Look for in a Payroll Service

In addition to cost and services provided, you need to look at a variety of factors when comparing payroll providers. This includes:

  • Tax compliance: If payroll were just a matter of cutting checks, anyone could do it. Knowledge and management of payroll taxes is what makes this task so complicated. You want a payroll service that understands all applicable regulations. And, preferably, one that files and pays your payroll taxes every quarter. Another option is for the provider to prepare the applicable tax documents and hand them over to you for filing and payment.
  • Payment options: Although direct deposit is the new norm, some employees (and companies) still prefer traditional printed checks. Others like the relatively new payroll cards. Whatever your payment preference, make sure the provider offers it.
  • Software compatibility: Every time someone enters information into a computer, there's a risk of error. The ideal payroll company uses software that integrates with platforms you use, which saves time (no need to re-enter records) and reduces the chance of mistakes.
  • Reliable customer service: Customer support should not end as soon as you sign the contract. Make sure your provider has live support available during your normal business hours. In addition, an online resource library offers easy-to-access answers without the need to call, chat, or email.

Author: Angela Escobar

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