What is ASO

clock November 9, 2021

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What is ASO in HR?

The growth of a business is every owner’s dream. But with expansion comes a set of hurdles to crossover.

Employee management is among the challenges you’ll face daily. And while workers are crucial to business success, employee issues consume time, which could be used more productively.

Considering you still have to network, keep up with market changes and plans, you may need professional assistance managing employees and help with, what is ASO?

This is where ASO and PEO come in. Read on to find out ASO, how different it is from PEO, and why they both assist essential business management.

What Is ASO?

ASO is an abbreviation for Administrative Service Organization. These are companies that offer outsourced services for administrative HR tasks. But unlike PEOs, ASO does not assume the title and role of co-employer.

Instead, once you hire an ASO, they’ll handle your company’s payroll support, tax fillings, and benefits administration. Still, your business retains liability since most of the paperwork has the business ID.

While HR ASO isn’t directly involved in administering employee benefits and can’t act on legal matters, they provide valuable advice on how to go about these processes. For example, ASO can recommend the best ASO insurance for workers’ healthcare plans.

But, because you retain the majority say over employee management without being involved in the day-to-day, you may prefer ASO services. But before you hire an ASO agency, here are some factors to consider:

Hiring Needs

What exactly is it that you want an ASO to do for you? Perhaps you want a company to arrange employee benefits coverage or offer compliance assistance and file payroll taxes under the business FIEN number. Either way, setting clear goals for hiring brings long-term collaboration success.

The ASOs Customer base

An ASO that has worked with several other businesses in your niche could provide better results than one that hasn’t. Therefore, check the company’s website to see which businesses they’ve worked with before or read reviews and testimonials left by previous customers.


Price is something you have to consider when hiring an ASO. Try to find companies that offer the services you need but within your budget range. While you may not have to break the bank, be cautious about under-budgeting because cheap can be expensive in the end.

What do PEO Companies do?

PEO, which stands for Professional Employer Organization, enters into a legal agreement with businesses to help manage their HR affairs. 

Basically, partnering with a PEO means transferring critical responsibilities of the HR department to the organization but remaining in charge of the day-to-day.

In addition, the PEO becomes a joint employer, and they’re listed as the employer on record. For this reason, they are liable in case legal problems due to administrative HR functions arise.

While the exact division of responsibilities between you and a PEO depends on the terms of the contract, their role typically revolves around the following:


The state and federal employment laws keep on changing time and again. A PEO keeps you up to date on the current regulations and advises you on how to stay compliant so that your business doesn’t get shut down or pay hefty fines.

Employee Health Benefits Administration

Since the healthcare system is ever-changing and costs keep soaring, subscribing to healthcare insurance from out-of-pocket is expensive and unsustainable; what’s more, when alone, the insurer may dictate unfavorable terms for employee healthcare plans.

By partnering with a PEO, you tap into a large pool of resources since the organization spreads the risk across many clients. This way, you get access to the most valuable and cost-effective benefits.

Payroll Tax Services

Ensuring that employees get their monthly payments on time is a tedious process for every business. Furthermore, there’s tax to exclude from their salaries among other state deductions.

PEOs streamline the payment system and ensure workers get their dues at a go. Furthermore, they’ll cover part of tax liabilities originating from errors in employee payrolls.

Workers’ Compensation

Injuries are common in the workplace, no matter the line of business you’re in. If an employee gets injured at work, you’re required by law to compensate them due to the injury. The stakes are even higher when the worker becomes permanently disabled.

PEO reduces the catastrophic impacts of workers’ compensation benefits on the business. It does so by replacing them with incentive-based programs that are cost-effective. And by doing so, it reduces the amount in premiums you pay.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

It is usual for businesses to enter into legal battles with employees, customers, or other companies. These tussles can be expensive when presented in court as lawsuits. If the court rules against you, your business may suffer a significant loss.

A reputable PEO provides amicable out-of-court resolutions that benefit both parties, especially when the odds are against you.

What Is a PEO Insurance Policy?

By law, you’re required to offer employees basic healthcare plans. And with workers’ health insurance becoming more expensive and stressful, providing adequate cover can be a challenge. All on your own, you may have:

  • To figure out the best insurance to procure
  • Limited insights on changes in health care plans
  • No employee educational support

However, with a PEO insurance policy, it’s a much smoother experience because of:

Access to PEO Health Insurance Carriers

Since PEOs cover a wide range of businesses, including big organizations, you’ll have access to competitive plans at no additional cost. This means you can recruit and keep the best talents in your organization.

Fewer Management Woes

Managing employee health insurance alone can be overwhelming and conflicting since you’re never sure if your current plan is satisfactory. But, depending on the PEO firm you choose, you’re more hands-off and guaranteed the best healthcare plans.

Updated Information

Healthcare plans change often and must be updated annually. Unfortunately, keeping tabs on all the changes and correcting them can be time-consuming and frustrating.

PEOs always have a pulse on the current changes and update them as soon as they happen.

Benefits of a PEO

PEO naturally helps businesses improve in all aspects but particularly HR administration. Some of the benefits enterprises realize from this partnership include:

Faster Growth Rate

Once you partner with a PEO, your focus can shift to growing other areas of your business. Established businesses realize a 7%-9% faster growth rate during the first year of partnership with PEO, while SMEs are50% less likely to close down.

Better Employee Retention

Because working conditions are more favorable after a PEO takes over, employees become satisfied and less likely to leave or join your business competitors. In addition, your business attracts the best talents because of the competitive PEO insurance plan.

Improved Compliance

PEOs are up-to-date with the current regulations and policies in the workplace. Therefore, you’re at a lesser risk of being caught on the wrong side of the law.

Positive ROI

After partnering with a PEO, and depending on their experience, you can get an annual return on investment of 27.9%. This means you can recoup most of your investment in no time.

What Is the Difference Between a PEO and ASO?

Deciding between ASO vs PEO is never an easy choice. They both provide HR administration only that one (PEO) is more hands-on and takes part of the risk while the other (ASO) doesn’t.

If you’ve been wondering whether to go for ASO or PEO, there are key differences you must know. For starters, you (the client) are the employer on record with an ASO, while in a PEO, you’re not. 

Secondly, a PEO offers master policies for workers’ compensation benefits, whereas in ASO, your source for the best coverage. Lastly, you’re liable in case of a tax roll liability in an ASO while the PEO absorbs some of this risk.

Are There Differences Between the Services Offered by an HRO, ASO, and PEO?

While the services offered by ASO and PEO are almost similar, only contrasting in approach, HRO services are much different. 

HRO refers to High-Reliability Organizations. These are companies that help businesses operate under challenging conditions but experience fewer problems than expected. HROs:

  • Manage unanticipated risks successfully
  • Adapt to changing conditions
  • Evolve even in the most demanding circumstances
  • Are mission-driven

HROs are very crucial to businesses.

 Is PEO a Good Idea?

Ultimately, HR administrative support depends on your business’s stage and whether you want to retain complete control of employee affairs. So, if you’d like to go for PEO as opposed to ASO, be ready to:

  • Outsource all of your HR
  • Reduce risk
  • Surrender employee hiring and firing power
  • Improve collective benefits bargaining

Going by experience, small and medium-sized businesses benefit the most from PEO because of the reduced risk, collective bargaining power, and compliance.

ASO and PEO: Getting Started

Now that you know what is ASO and how different it is from PEO and even HRO, you can decide the best HR administrator. Remember to consider the experience the company brings to the table before hiring them.

If you want to outsource your HR administrative functions today, contact us to get you started.

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