TriNet Review 2020: Is It Right for Your Business?

TriNet provides small and medium-sized businesses with a wide range of workforce management solutions, including human resources and benefits administration, compliance services, applicant tracking, performance management, and more. In this review, we are going to focus on one of TriNet’s most popular services—payroll processing.

TriNet provides tailored payroll solutions for a variety of different business types, including finance, manufacturing, marketing, nonprofits, retail, technology businesses, and more.

So does all that variety and experience make TriNet a good fit for your business’s payroll needs? Let’s find out.

TriNet Payroll Features

TriNet Payroll is a cloud-hosted payroll solution that allows you to manage and process payroll via an online portal or the TriNet mobile app. As we mentioned, TriNet offers payroll solutions by business type, as well as by the size of your business. TriNet couples their payroll service with a few other nifty features to make managing labor costs as intuitive as possible. Note that TriNet does not offer a standalone payroll service. You can only get it as part of a larger HR solution.

Here are the features you can expect with TriNet Payroll:

Payroll Processing

Adding employees to the TriNet Payroll system is as easy as uploading their I-9 and W-4 information. TriNet will take care of filing and notifying the appropriate state and federal authorities.

Next, you’ll arrange your payroll schedule. TriNet allows you to run payroll weekly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly (twice per month), and monthly. You can also arrange different pay schedules for different employee groups. For instance, you can pay your salaried employees on a semi-monthly basis and your hourly employees on a weekly basis. Remember that whichever payroll schedule you choose will affect the deadline by which you have to submit payroll.

To process payroll, you’ll enter employee hours worked since the previous pay period—or, if you sign up for TriNet’s time tracking tool, this information will be automatically imported (more on this later). TriNet also has options for entering in overtime and bonuses. Depending on the information you provide, TriNet will automatically determine what each employee is owed this pay period, as well as any deductions.

Payment Options

TriNet facilitates ACH, or direct deposit, as well as the delivery of physical checks. Employees can also opt to have their wages deposited onto a debit card through a partnership TriNet has with the financial services company Rapid. TriNet delivers e-paystubs to employees at the end of each pay period so they can see a breakdown of their paycheck, including tax and benefits deductions and retirement contributions.

Tax Administration

When you run payroll, TriNet will automatically calculate and withhold federal, state, and local payroll taxes, and electronically submit withholdings. TriNet can also handle your payroll administration tax documents, including electronic W-2 preparation and delivery at the end of the year. Employees can choose to import their W-2s directly into TurboTax. TriNet will even manage unemployment taxes and claims for you.

Employee Portal

When your business contracts with TriNet, all your employees get access to a self-service employee portal. From here, they can view their latest paystub, see their payment history, view a breakdown of where their money is going (i.e. earnings, taxes, benefits), adjust their direct deposit information, update tax information, download their W-2, and view other employment forms and policies.

Depending on the additional services you sign up for, employees can view and elect specific benefits, track PTO, submit expenses, view performance reviews, and see the company directory and organizational chart.

All this information is also accessible from the TriNet mobile app. One added benefit of using the app is that it stores a digital version of your health insurance card for easy access.

Reporting

From the reporting portal on your TriNet dashboard, you can view over 20 standard and customizable reports to help you gain insight into your labor costs. View reports on job costing, compensation, turnover ratio, and more. Reports can be segmented by department or individual employee, and all reports can be exported to your accounting software or downloaded as a PDF, Excel spreadsheet, or CSV file.

Customer Support

All TriNet Payroll subscribers receive a dedicated account manager who can answer any payroll-related questions. This can be particularly useful when it comes to matters of compliance, such as your state laws regarding maternity leave, disability insurance, or working with contractors and freelancers.

If it’s outside of business hours, TriNet’s blog and support center feature guides on how to perform essential functions. TriNet also has offices in 20 states across the country and routinely hosts in-person events at their offices where customers can learn more about the TriNet platform and general HR best practices. Find your nearest TriNet office to learn more.

Integrations and Add-Ons

TriNet is really a professional employer organization (PEO), meaning they provide a wide range of services beyond payroll that may come in handy for small and medium-sized businesses. Let’s take a look at a few of those offerings now:

HR Services

TriNet can provide your business with a team of industry-specific HR specialists to assist you in a myriad of functions, from recruiting and onboarding employees to performance tracking, growth and development, and employee relations.

On the back-end, TriNet provides you with platforms where you can manage recruitment, provide employee feedback, and give employees access to over 500 online educational programs.

Benefits Administration

PEOs like TriNet can typically secure comprehensive benefits packages at affordable rates by grouping their co-employees from all of their client companies together. TriNet in particular offers medical, dental, vision, and disability insurance; retirement plans; flexible spending accounts; pre-tax commuter benefits; gym membership discounts; employee assistance programs; and more.

On the compliance side, TriNet can help you navigate requirements related to the Affordable Care Act, COBRA, disability, workers compensation, and state filings.

Expense Management

TriNet offers their own expense management tool that allows you to import expenses from a bank account, credit card statement, or by snapping a picture of a receipt from the TriNet Expense app. The app also comes with a mileage tracker, and expenses can be reimbursed by importing the charges to your payroll platform. Furthermore, expense info can be exported from TriNet Payroll to your accounting software for easier bookkeeping.

Time and Attendance

With TriNet’s time and attendance tool, you can generate work schedules by day, week, or month; add breaks that align with your scheduling policies; and update schedules to optimize their staffing mix. Employees can also request time off from their employee portal, and all scheduling information is imported into payroll.

TriNet Pricing

As is common with many HR and payroll management platforms, pricing for TriNet is quote-based. TriNet assesses fees on a monthly per-employee basis. Cost is impacted by the number of employees in your company, and the selection of additional services you plan to use with TriNet (i.e. benefits, HR). 

Since, as we mentioned, TriNet is a full-service PEO, you can build a truly comprehensive workforce management solution for your business, or you can choose a few specific features—such as payroll—without having to pay for services you don’t want or need. In this way, quote-based pricing can help you build a customized plan for your business.

Of course, the lack of upfront pricing makes Trinet’s pricing harder to compare to other platforms on the market. If you’re interested in TriNet Payroll or their other HR services, we recommend reaching out to their sales team directly for a quote and then comparing it to other payroll systems to make sure you’re getting a competitive price.

TriNet Payroll Pros

Here are what we see as the benefits of working with TriNet Payroll:

Range of Services

With a PEO, you get so much more than just payroll services, and if you want to get your money’s worth, you should take advantage of that. TriNet offers a broad range of services that are size and industry-specific—that’s not something you get with most payroll service providers.

Risk Mitigation

Another thing you get when working with an organization that provides tailored solutions for specific industries is people who know how to keep your business in compliance with the law. TriNet provides you with a dedicated account manager for all of your services—that means one for payroll, one for benefits, and one for HR. These people can be your go-to resource whenever you have any compliance-related questions, allowing you to make informed decisions with peace of mind.

TriNet Payroll Cons

Here are some drawbacks to using TriNet for payroll:

Clunky UI

A repeated comment amongst users is that they find the TriNet platform to be confusing, buggy, and prone to glitches. In particular, users said they found TriNet’s reporting portal difficult to use, and that integrating the TriNet platform with other software is a slow process.

Price

If you’re just looking for a payroll solution, TriNet can be pretty pricey. That’s because customers are encouraged to bundle their payroll service with other TriNet products. The real value comes from being able to have so many services under one provider. There are cheaper options available for those just looking to process payroll.

TriNet Customer Reviews

The TriNet customer reviews are a bit all over the map. In positive reviews, customers praise TriNet for providing every service needed for their business. In particular, they are happy with the range of benefits they have access to, and how payroll is processed accurately and on time.

In negative reviews, customers say TriNet is overpriced for its level of service, and that account managers sometimes provide incorrect information. Others reported glitches that caused errors in payroll and PTO tracking.

TriNet Payroll Alternatives

If you don’t think TriNet is a good fit for your business, here are some alternatives to consider:

Wave Payroll

If you’re looking for a payroll service provider with a bunch of additional services that you don’t have to pay for, consider Wave Payroll. Wave provides a full-service payroll platform and combines it with free accounting and invoicing software, giving you one place to manage all of your incoming and outgoing money. Wave Payroll starts at $39 per month plus $6 per employee you run payroll for. Note that Wave only offers tax administration in six states.

ADP Payroll

If you want to work with a large payroll service provider that caters to small businesses, consider Automatic Data Processing (ADP). ADP offers four different payroll-specific plans, each catering to different sized businesses with specific needs. But since ADP is a PEO, you also get access to an array of additional services, like you do with TriNet. Also like TriNet, ADP pricing is quote-based.

Is TriNet Payroll Right for Your Business?

TriNet can work for most businesses—catering to businesses as small as five people and as large 100 or more—but it makes for a really attractive option if you need more than just payroll. That’s because TriNet can provide a broad range of services, including full-service HR management tools. This makes them especially attractive for small businesses without a vast in-house HR team. You’ll receive account managers to answer all of your questions, and by taking advantage of their offerings as a PEO, you can receive much more competitive benefits rates than you would if you were on your own.

However, if you’re only looking for payroll processing, you’ll likely want to choose another option. Because TriNet really shines as a full HR management suite, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to use them only for payroll. You’ll likely find cheaper payroll options on the market, such as Wave, Gusto, or Zenefits.

Matthew Speiser

Matthew 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. Matthew's writing has been published in Business Insider, The Fiscal Times, Best Company, and NJ.com, among others. Matthew was also a co-author for Startup Guide—a series of guidebooks designed to assist entrepreneurs in different cities around the world. He has a degree in journalism from the University of Delaware. Email: matthew.speiser@fundera.com.
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