If you’re doing your own research, two names you’ve probably encountered are Justworks and TriNet. Both are what’s known as professional employer organizations (PEO), meaning they can handle everything from processing payroll to administering benefits for your employees.
TriNet has been around since 1988, and currently provides services for over 325,000 employees. JustWorks is a newer competitor, having only launched in 2012. But despite their shorter history, they can already count some very notable companies as clients, including Axios and Qubit.
But the question is, which is better for your business? To answer that question, we’ll compare Justworks vs. Trinet on four criteria: features, cost, ease of use, and user reviews.
Payroll administration, HR, benefits administration, expense management, time tracking and scheduling
Payroll administration, HR, benefits administration, time tracking and scheduling
Starting at $49 per month, but varies based on number of employees
Ease of use
Cloud-based platform, employee portal, customer service between 6 AM – 12 AM EST Monday – Friday
Cloud-based platform, employee portal, 24/7 customer service
Many people primarily want to know if their HR service can do everything they need it to do. Fortunately, both Justworks and TriNet offer a lot of functionality in that regard. Here’s the breakdown for each:
TriNet’s core product is a cloud-based platform that can handle a myriad of functions, including payroll administration. Here’s a full rundown of TriNet’s features:
Now, these are just the core functions of the software. There are also a variety of add-on services that you can buy that turn TriNet from simple payroll software into a full-fledged PEO. Here are those services:
Just like TriNet, Justworks is a cloud-based platform with a ton of functionality. Let’s look at the details of what this system can do for your business:
The key difference here is that all of these features come included, based on the service plan you choose. With TriNet, some come included, and others must be purchased as add-ons.
TriNet offers a few extra things that Justworks does not, like an expense management program. However, we like that Justworks includes all their features as part of their service plans, and does not make you pay more for add-ons. For this reason, Justworks comes out on top, although it’s a fairly close call.
For some business owners, price is even more important than the features each service offers. And Justworks and TriNet are quite different in regards to how they price their services. Let’s see how they compare:
TriNet’s pricing is entirely quote-based. In order to get a TriNet quote, you’ll need to set up a consultation with one of their salespeople, and they would create a plan that works for your business and your budget. On their website, TriNet says, “Pricing can be complex given the various associated costs with delivering full-service HR.”
Factors that impact cost for most businesses include the number of employees you need to run payroll for and the services you require—such as fringe benefits. TriNet has a table on their website to help you get an idea of the cost of their services:
Image source: TriNet
As previously mentioned, Justworks comes with two different pricing plans: Basic and Plus. The difference between the two plans is that Plus comes with access to medical, dental, vision, and disability insurance, as well as a 401(k) plan and health and wellness benefits. Basic comes with everything mentioned in the previous section outside of those perks. The breakdown in pricing depends on which plan you choose and the number of employees you have.
Here’s how the pricing looks for each plan:
If we’re being perfectly honest, Justworks isn’t cheap. Relative to competitors like Gusto and Zenefits, they’re actually quite expensive. However, both Justworks and TriNet are PEOs, and that level of service always comes at a higher cost. What we appreciate is that Justworks is upfront about their pricing, while TriNet is not. Therefore, Justworks takes this category.
The next area of evaluation is ease of use. This is important because you want your payroll and HR software to streamline operations, not cause more headaches. So let’s see how easy it is to get up and running with both TriNet and Justworks.
Getting started with TriNet is as simple as providing basic business and employee information, linking your business bank account, and arranging your payroll schedule—all of which your TriNet account manager can help you do.
What’s more, new hires can also go through a self-onboarding process via the TriNet employee portal.
As we mentioned, you’ll have a cloud-based platform where you can handle all important business functions, including running payroll, administering benefits, setting schedules, and viewing reports. TriNet also sends you alerts every time you need to run payroll, so you won’t forget. A sidebar on your dashboard can also direct you to your documents library, compliance center, and other HR tools.
On the payroll page, you’ll see a list of all your employees, and the hours they’ve worked for the last payroll period (if you have the time and attendance add-on), plus any bonuses or overtime payment earned. TriNet automatically calculates what each individual is owed. All you need to do is review it and click “run payroll.”
For assistance with your TriNet software, you can contact the general support line between the hours of 6 a.m. and 12 a.m. ET Monday through Friday. However, your first point of contact should be your payroll account manager. Outside of business hours, we recommend referencing TriNet’s blog for troubleshooting issues.
Much like TriNet, Justworks has everything conveniently loaded into their cloud-based platform. And just like TriNet, getting started is as simple as providing basic business and employee information.
Once you’re onboarded, you’ll be directed to a dashboard not dissimilar from TriNet’s. From here, you can see urgent updates such as PTO requests and benefits deadlines, any outstanding documents employees owe you, and when you next need to run payroll (and how much it will cost you).
Via a menu on the left-hand side, you can also quickly jump to pages where you can run payroll, perform functions related to benefits, PTO, and business policies and procedures, and a lot more.
When you’re ready to run payroll, Justworks will pre-calculate employee hours and automatically determine the cost. From here, you can adjust employee hours, add on bonuses, or toggle between salaried employees and contractors. If everything’s in order, simply submit payroll. Justworks takes care of the rest.
In terms of support services, Justworks offers 24/7 support via phone, email, live chat, Slack, or text. Justworks also has specialized support staff to help with issues related to benefits, compliance, and payroll. What’s more, they also offer a blog, Resource Center, and Help Center.
Image source: Justworks
We find TriNet and Justworks very easy to use, but it seems Justworks has more infrastructure in place to support customers in need, including a Slack channel and text messaging. What’s more, TriNet has had more than a few customer complaints related to support (more on that in the next section).
What we say only counts for so much, so let’s hear about what users of each product think of both TriNet and Justworks.
TriNet gets a lot of props for their range of features, and for the flexibility they offer in allowing small business owners to build a solution that works best for them. This is perhaps an overlooked point: Not every small business owner needs all the tools Justworks has. By offering the basics, then allowing customers to mix and match their add-on features, TriNet actually offers quite a bit of flexibility.
Of course, people also love that TriNet is a PEO, and can secure them fair rates on health care and other benefits. Other areas of praise include TriNet’s ease of use when it comes to running payroll and managing compliance. Here’s what one customer had to say about that:
“The payroll feature makes sure all employees are paid on time and appropriately, and also deducts taxes without us having to worry about it,” says Dustin Vann, owner and CEO of Trusy Social. “The plan choices are really varied, helping you to decide what is best for the company and is a more personal experience.”
Critiques of TriNet focus on the lack of reporting tools and cost of services. There are also a fair number of complaints regarding customer support. Some say TriNet support staff have given them wrong advice. Others say they constantly are placed on long holds. Vann also says TriNet does a poor job with their organizational tools, such as their scheduling and PTO function.
For all the praise TriNet seems to garner, Justworks gets even more. Most of it focuses on Justworks’ intuitiveness.
“JustWorks is an extension of our HR team, and is a great resource for a small business like ourselves,” says Mike Falahee, owner and CEO of Marygrove Awning Co. “It is really easy to use with strong customer support. We always know where to go if we need help. It’s also transparent with invoicing, which is vital.”
Another user, CardAccounts CEO Ollie Smith, says Justworks has allowed his business to become more efficient, and in turn save money:
“For any administrator, it’s easy to navigate, and features such as direct deposit, expense tracking, and payroll management make running a successful business on a daily basis much easier.”
“The big benefit tracker tools I’ve used before have been too cumbersome, unintuitive, and not helpful. The more niche tools have not been useful enough for me to use on a regular basis. Justworks finds the perfect medium.”
Nobody we spoke with had any major complaints about Justworks. Some cons that were brought up include the fact that the UI of the dashboard can be a little confusing, and sometimes Justworks has issues saving data. However, no customer said these factors dissuaded them from using Justworks.
It’s a clean sweep for Justworks, as it seems most users of the product only have positive things to say about it. That’s not to say TriNet doesn’t have good user reviews—they do. However, Justworks customers just seem to be louder in their praise.
Overall, Justworks seems to be the more popular option, thanks to their range of features, transparent pricing, and intuitiveness. All of these factors seem to have their customers raving, making it no surprise this tech-focused HR business is growing rapidly.
As for TriNet—they’re a good service too. They have a ton of features, a bit more flexibility, and plenty of happy customers. So in the end, it’s really just a matter of which suits your business needs best. If you’re considering TriNet, reach out to their sales team to get a quote for your business. With this information, you can make a much clearer distinction between whether Justworks vs. TriNet is best for your business.
Matthew Speiser is a former staff writer at Fundera.
He has written extensively about ecommerce, marketing and sales, and payroll and HR solutions, but is particularly knowledgeable about merchant services. Prior to Fundera, Matthew was an editorial lead at Google and an intern reporter at Business Insider. Matthew was also a co-author for Startup Guide—a series of guidebooks designed to assist entrepreneurs in different cities around the world.