The PEO model is battle-tested and optimal for times of turmoil. Here are nine benefits demonstrating the immense value of a PEO in a crisis.

Whether due to pandemic,
natural disaster or an act of violence, a crisis can send an operationally
sound business into distress with little warning.

That’s why it’s
important to understand the immense value of a professional employer organization (PEO) in a crisis.

What’s the value of a PEO in a crisis?

The COVID-19
pandemic created a very uncertain business climate. In the past, we’ve seen
companies face serious disruptions following the 9/11 attacks, the global
financial crisis as well as several major hurricanes and wildfires.

Crises can occur
at any moment and company leaders often need to make weighty decisions in a
short amount of time. Reliable business advisors and efficient internal
processes are critical in these moments.

A PEO can provide you with

Specifically, a
PEO’s HR outsourcing services help you:

  • Take care of your people during a crisis.
  • Support you through any new employer-related administrative and
    compliance burdens.

As a result, you
may find it easier to focus more fully on navigating the financial impact of
the situation and connecting with your customers.

The PEO model is battle-tested and optimal for times of turmoil. Here are nine areas that demonstrate the immense value of a PEO in a crisis.

1. Foster business

Even during times
of crisis, a reputable PEO will have systems and processes in place to help its
client companies maintain business as usual.

For example, if you face a technology disruption in your offices and you have an engagement with a reliable PEO, the PEO will continue to handle or provide:

  • On-time payroll processing
  • Ongoing benefits and leave administration
  • Timely help with employee relations issues

Without that
support, it’s up to you to overcome any sudden obstacles that keep you from
paying your employees as expected or that keep them from accessing and using
their benefits.

2. Inform you of
regulatory changes

It’s common to
see new legislation emerge during or after a crisis that affects employers.

For example, small
businesses may suddenly be required by law to provide additional employee
benefits (such as emergency paid sick leave).

PEOs monitor and analyze
changes in employment laws and regulations. They follow HR-related regulatory
changes to decipher what they might mean for your business and then provide tools,
resources or guidance on how to achieve compliance and mitigate the HR-related risks.

Many find HR
compliance burdensome during normal times. In a crisis, it requires even more
diligence. Without a PEO’s support, business owners must keep this responsibility in their mental
load and find ways to stay informed and compliant on their own.

3. Provide guidance
on keeping employees safe

If you use the services of a PEO, as co-employer, they will be
invested in helping you keep your workers safe. This is especially true in a

A good PEO can
help you understand guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Many PEOs will
also provide client organizations with additional resources designed to keep
your employees out of harm’s way, such as comprehensive safety checklists and
sample disaster preparedness and illness prevention plans.

4. Help you communicate
clearly with employees

Decision-making in a crisis is tough, and often, there is little time and energy left to devote to how you’ll communicate your decisions to your employees.

But your responses to a fear-inducing situation can come to define your leadership in the minds of your team members. Certain situations can leave you at a loss for words. What’s the right thing to say when you don’t know what to say. That’s another reason why it’s great to be connected to a PEO during a challenging time.

Many PEOs provide
written templates for their clients that show them suggested ways to communicate
with their employees in various scenarios.

For example, as a
PEO client, you may have access to sample emails or text messages to use when
announcing weather-related business closures to your employees.

It seems simple,
but in an urgent time, having well-polished talking points ready to borrow can
be a huge relief. Not only does this allow you to devote yourself to other more
pressing demands, but it also helps ensure you come across as collected and
professional despite the strain you may feel in the moment.

5. Offer
guidance on managing a remote workforce

Sometimes a crisis
prevents travel to the office. A PEO can help organizations determine if remote
work is a good solution to implement for a few days or even a few months in a
prolonged crisis.

If you decide to
allow telecommuting, a PEO can guide you on how to manage remote employees successfully and how you can direct employees
working flexible schedules.

6. Help you
adjust policies and procedures

New legislation
and new ways of working during a crisis might sometimes mean you need to write
new HR-related company policies or procedures.

The HR specialists at a PEO can help you:

  • Determine whether any policy changes should be temporary or
  • Get the wording right
  • Help you make sure that your policy complies with applicable laws
    and regulations
  • Announce the changes to your employees
  • Update your employee handbook if needed

Creating HR
policy on your own requires that you spend a lot of time researching, writing
and wondering if you’ve missed anything. Crafting policies with a PEO on your
team gives you the full resources of their web of experts who will apply HR best
practices to your specific situation.

7. Help you increase
operational efficiency

Depending on the amount of disruption to your business in a crisis, you may face the need to increase operational efficiency, freeze hiring or sometimes lay off employees.

Again, a PEO’s HR
specialists can help you look at your organizational chart and assist you with how
to best allocate resources to be more efficient.

Then, if needed,
a PEO can help you consider whether to implement a hiring freeze or temporary
or permanent layoff. They can guide you in the best ways to communicate your
choices with any affected employees and address your concerns along the way.

8. Oversee unemployment

If you do need to
lay off some of your workforce in a crisis, a PEO steps in again to oversee
unemployment administration for your business. That includes processing notices
from your state unemployment agency and either accepting or contesting claims.

This help can add
up to a lot less paperwork for you in the moment and may be especially welcome
if an employee’s eligibility for unemployment is unclear.

9. Help you
rehire employees

If you plan to
rehire employees after a temporary layoff, a PEO can help you develop your
rehiring strategy.

You’ll have
specialized advice on how to reinstate your employees and best practices for
onboarding them a second time back into your organization.


We’ve lived through enough unpredictable crises in the United States to know that the most recent one won’t be our last. Partnering with a PEO helps set your business up for long-term sustainability and success in good times and in bad.

To learn more about the value of a PEO in a crisis (and in normal times), download our free e-book: HR outsourcing: A step-by-step guide to professional employer organizations (PEOs)