Business owners looking for a Professional Employment Organization (PEO) will find many things to like about TriNet and its bevy of payroll features and options.
- Strong payroll features
- Advanced employee management
- Easy setup
- Consistent pricing
- Inconsistent customer support
TriNet is an all-inclusive professional employment organization (PEO) that hopes to bring ease and continuity to all aspects of an employee’s lifecycle, from hiring and training, paying and managing benefits, to exploring performance management over time. TriNet offers payroll services as the foundational component to its more comprehensive HR program, but TriNet is an all-or-nothing platform.
A PEO is not for all small businesses since it is a co-employment model: You turn over aspects of your business to the PEO, which runs your payroll, pays your taxes under the PEO company’s name, and handles HR issues (including issues involving litigation). Because it assumes more risk than a payroll company would at face value, a PEO is a pricier option than strictly payroll software. However, if you are looking to turn over your HR responsibilities and bundle payroll, a PEO might be more cost-effective than hiring someone for HR (depending on your company, your size and needs, and your budget). If you’re in the market for a PEO (rather than a software company that focuses on payroll alone), then TriNet is a decent option.
The user interface is intuitive and simple to use. While the options are robust, they are not very customizable. TriNet does have an API and will work with you to integrate systems you already use, but those integrations can be slow and cumbersome. Since you’re paying for a complete HR platform, everything is connected: time clocks, expenses, payroll, vacation scheduling, training, health benefits, and insurance is all available in one place.
For payroll alone, this may not be the most economical choice for small businesses. Are you looking for a different type of payroll provider? Learn about our top payroll options and read our reviews on our favorites like Gusto or QuickBooks Online.
However, TriNet could be a good option if you want to outsource your payroll and HR services. Keep on reading our full TriNet review to find out if it’s a good fit for you.
Table of Contents
TriNet, an all-encompassing human capital management program and not just a payroll program, does not publish its pricing online.
Each quote is tailored to a company’s specific needs. While TriNet creates a custom quote for each customer, that quote will be a consistent monthly cost that won’t change, unlike other PEOs that charge a percentage of your payroll each month.
We did receive a specific quote for our company after a demo. Then we asked for a cursory understanding of the range of that quote for a business with 15 employees operating in several states. Our company was quoted between $180-$250 per employee per month, plus a setup fee of $3,000. This price should be used as a guideline. Contact TriNet directly for your custom quote.
Is your small business looking for the PEO model with a set price? Then TriNet is ahead of the game with transparency, even though it doesn’t publish prices online. Pricing depends on how many employees you have, where the business is located, where employees are located, state tax requirements, what health/retirement benefits are available, and how much you’ll contribute under the PEO model, plus a variety of other small factors. (Note that you must contribute a minimum of 70% of the least expensive benefits option available.)
Online Full-Service Payroll & HR Suite
Contact TriNet directly for pricing. While pricing varies, here are the features you can expect with a TriNet account:
- Unlimited payroll runs
- Calculates paychecks
- Calculates and files year-end forms
- Does payroll taxes for you
- Same-day direct deposit
- Free W-2s filed and sent
- Assisted payroll setup
- Help from US-based experts
- Time-keeping platform
- Performance review
- TriNet Learn training program (over 1,400 courses available)
- Mobile app for administrators and employees
- Connect 360 (24/7 HR experts available for all HR related questions/needs)
There are several additional costs to be aware of when choosing TriNet as your PEO:
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance: Most businesses with one or more employees across all 50 states need workers’ compensation as a legal business requirement. It pays for medical expenses and lost wages if an employee gets injured on the job; TriNet partners with AP Intego’s pay-as-you-go workers’ compensation insurance. There is a $5 monthly fee to use this service. Premiums for workers’ compensation will depend on how many employees you have and what type of business you operate.
- Medical/Dental/Vision: Access to enterprise-level insurance options is part of the PEO model. However, if you choose TriNet or any other PEO model, there is a minimum contribution requirement toward health insurance. You won’t pay for a vendor program, but you will need to pay a minimum of 70% of the lowest-priced benefits package. Through TriNet, you’ll have access to some of the following providers: Kaiser Permanente, UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and others.
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
TriNet is cloud-based, with no downloads or installation required.
Hardware & Software Requirements
As cloud-based software, TriNet operates with nearly all internet browsers so long as you have internet access. The TriNet mobile apps are available for both Apple and Android products.
Specific Size Of Business
TriNet is best for small to medium-sized businesses in need of a robust HR suite or that are looking for a PEO with a set monthly price. The luxury of a PEO is that your business gets an enterprise model of HR/Payroll without paying enterprise prices.
This program will help your business, from recruitment to onboarding, through training and employee management, all the way through termination. When TriNet purports to assist with the lifecycle of an employee, that’s precisely what it does. If you don’t need all those services, this program might not be a good fit, and you could overpay for services you won’t use. However, if you need moderate HR assistance, tax assistance, and legal assistance all in one place, a PEO is a great solution.
Before choosing TriNet, understand that you are giving up control to TriNet to organize and navigate aspects of your business that you might want to oversee. Read: This is not a great program for micro-managers, as administrators do not have all the capabilities in the program. (Several user reviews cite frustration with the inability to change information on the program after it has been submitted. Even if a manager knows the correct information, you will need a customer service rep from TriNet to make changes. This extra step may feel cumbersome.)
If you are currently using a patchwork of software to run your business (one system for your point of sale, another for payroll, different software for HR requirements, and you’re using a broker for extra expenses), the joy of consolidating all those requirements into a single place might outweigh the potential increase in cost. For payroll alone, this may not be the most economical choice for small businesses, but a PEO could be an asset if you are planning on growing as a company.
Ease Of Use
The user interface for TriNet is intuitive and straightforward to navigate. Interactions within the site are easy, and the graphics are modern. Helpful graphs and access to a bevy of reports make the system useful and interactive.
The program is constantly updating and staying current on compliance issues and ahead of PEO trends. However, TriNet’s integrations don’t have the same usability, and users complain that the integrations are often clunky and unimpressive.
TriNet offers all the basics you’d expect with a payroll solution, but also a few more bells and whistles for larger companies. Here’s an overview of what you can expect with TriNet’s payroll services:
- Dashboard: The TriNet dash is simple and clear. Your tasks are front and center (approving leave, running payroll, etc.), and the dashboard leads you through your daily HR needs. On the left-hand side of the screen is access to everything you need inside the TriNet program. Stuck? There is an in-program help center one click away on the right.
- TriNet Employee Portal: Employees have access to all their information through the employee portal or the employee app. An employee can change their address or W-2 status, print pay stubs, and make changes to their benefits.
- Employee Management: TriNet has many features to help you manage your employees and contractors from a single interface. You can add information, including job title, payment information, time off, tax documents, and benefits. TriNet allows you to manage additional earnings, deductions, and garnishments. You can set up licensure codes and even track bonuses and vacation trends. TriNet’s functionality is designed to last the entire lifecycle, so there is even one-click assistance to termination help.
- TriNet Payroll: TriNet promises that running payroll is as easy as clicking a button. It takes about two or three minutes to run payroll online for each pay date. Once your employees are enrolled, their hours and pay scales set, and your pay dates set, running payroll is simple. (Reviews are mixed about the onboarding process.) TriNet pays your taxes and files your quarterly payroll reports. No matter how simple or complicated your pay scales are, TriNet is equipped to balance all pay groups.
- Payment Methods: You can pay your employees by check or by direct deposit.
- Pay Stubs & Checks: Employees can download a PDF of their pay stubs directly from their employee portal. If you choose to pay your employees by check, TriNet can send paper checks.
- Paid Time Off (PTO): You can set paid time off policies on any plan, including vacation and sick days. Set sick days/vacation or accrued sick days/vacation are both possibilities. Your employees can manage all their PTO from the app, and those requests show up at your workstation.
- TriNet Reports: TriNet allows for custom reports and many variations of similar reports. Reporting features are extensive and aesthetically pleasing.
- TriNet Benefits Administration: Through TriNet, you will be able to access enterprise-level benefits to offer to employees. Both you and the employee will have access to benefit information through TriNet.
- Payroll Garnishment: TriNet can handle pay garnishment for you.
- Tax Support: As part of the function of a PEO, TriNet will assume co-ownership of your business for tax purposes only. The company will pay and manage your taxes. Should you need advanced tax support, you can request help from experts.
TriNet Customer Service & Support
Say it ain’t so: Even my experiences with TriNet’s crew initially left a lot to be desired. After three missed demos, I had to reach out to the company again to connect with someone from sales. During that whole debacle, I felt that TriNet was not eager for my business. While I’m usually a fan of nonaggressive sales tactics, this seemed negligent.
Eventually, I went to customer service, explained the missed demos, and asked to try a different rep. It was at that point where TriNet worked well with me to find a new sales rep, but the whole process didn’t make me feel that TriNet cared about me as a potential customer.
Luckily, there are several ways to get in touch with TriNet support, as well as some helpful resources:
- Phone: TriNet does have phone access, and it recently extended its phone hours. Check TriNet’s website for updated numbers and times.
- Email: Yes, there is a way to contact customer service through email, either outside or inside your payroll program.
- Online Chat: Online chat is a quick and easy option. I used the feature a few times and was always connected with someone right away.
- In-Software Support: Within the software, you or your users can access the help center.
- Help Center: There is an online help center with articles, forms, and lists to help keep you knowledgeable and organized.
- Social Media: TriNet maintains Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts.
TriNet User Reviews
Negative TriNet Reviews & Complaints
As with any company working in HR and payroll, not everyone is a happy customer at the end of the day. Consumer Affairs gives TriNet 2.9/5 stars (based on 149 ratings). Most of the poor ratings come from employees frustrated with aspects of their FSAs or Cobra insurance payments. Not accounting for employee reviews of the app, managers are impressed with the program’s ease of use and comprehensiveness. The primary criticisms in the reviews are about employee complaints and fees.
- Nontransparent Pricing & Fees: Some PEOs will charge you a percentage of payroll (which can disincentivize raises, boo!), but TriNet’s flat rate is a nice change of pace. Still, it’s hard to get a specific quote without turning over all your tax information, and TriNet is known to be pricey. Some complaints are related to excess fees and issues with trying to stop service.
Positive TriNet Reviews & Testimonials
Unfortunately, most customer reviews for TriNet are negative, and there’s only a small number of positive reviews. Capterra only sports 27 reviews, and the rating is 3.7/5. Here are the top benefits of TriNet that we think users will like based on their client’s positive experiences:
- Easy To Access & Use: The TriNet interface is clean and straightforward. It’s easy to use for all levels of technical abilities, and most users find it very intuitive. Also, as long as you have an internet connection, you can run payroll.
- Onboarding Help: TriNet wants to make the onboarding process easier. Your specific representatives are dedicated to making sure you are set up from start to finish. Since this part of the process is a bit tedious, it’s nice to have the extra assistance in making sure all the required forms are filled out.
- Constantly Updating: Even this past year, TriNet has rolled out new changes and updates to its program. Since the program is cloud-based, all updates are automatic, so you know you’re getting a fresh and evolving product. TriNet’s willingness to explore upgrades and keep current is essential. This next year, it’s adding more legal assistance to its HR suite.
TriNet does have an API that supports business-to-business applications and end-user applications. If you use several programs already for bookkeeping and time-tracking, you’ll be unimpressed with TriNet’s integrations. While the company says it will work with you to manage integrations, ultimately, the goal is for you to stay within TriNet’s umbrella.
Many reviews mention clunkiness with its integration to QuickBooks. TriNet also integrates with Intacct and NetSuite.
TriNet is certified with the Department of Commerce and says that it uses Privacy Shield Principles. According to TriNet’s website:
We have implemented technical, physical, and administrative controls appropriate to the sensitivity of the personal information in order to protect information. TriNet is committed to the safeguarding of personal information and seeks to employ industry standard technologies and privacy practices to protect your information. In addition, all TriNet employees are required to complete privacy and security training every year.
Unfortunately, TriNet does not mention any specific controls as far as security is concerned.
The Bottom Line: Is TriNet Worth It?
Based on reviews and our own experience, small businesses that know they want to work with a PEO will want to look at TriNet. It’s a bit more expensive than other PEOs specifically designed for small businesses (such as JustWorks, which is designed for companies with fewer than 100 people). However, the prices aren’t based on a percentage of payroll like other PEO structures, and TriNet’s HR suite won’t leave your business wanting.
There are some glitches with integrations, but if you need an HR system from the ground up, you can tailor the experience to match your needs. Payroll is simple and accommodating, and you won’t be nickel and dimed into building a vendor list through various marketplaces. Everything you need to offer an employee can be done through the PEO. With the addition of tax support and even termination support, TriNet has customers covered.
If you want to hand the HR baton off to experts and focus more on other aspects of your business, a PEO could save numerous hours and headaches, and TriNet is a solid choice for small businesses looking to grow.
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