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Oasis Outsourcing Review: Best PEO for Very Small Businesses

Our 2017 research and analysis of professional employer organizations (PEOs) leads us to again recommend Oasis Outsourcing as the best PEO for very small businesses. We chose Oasis from the dozens of PEOs we considered. To understand how we selected our best picks, you can find our methodology and a comprehensive list of PEOs on our best picks page.

Oasis Outsourcing has no minimum employee requirements, offers an extensive selection of PEO services and provides hands-on customer support that very small businesses will appreciate. Here is a breakdown of why it's our best pick.

Oasis Outsourcing offers a complete collection of PEO services that allow very small businesses the opportunity to provide employees with the same benefits and services larger organizations offer.

What makes Oasis particularly attractive to very small businesses is that it doesn't have a minimum employee requirement. Some of the other PEO providers we considered only offer services to businesses with a minimum of five to 10 employees.

Editor's note: Looking for information on PEOs? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

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Though Oasis features every type of PEO service imaginable, you don't have to use them all. Instead, businesses have the option to create a customized package that best fits their needs. Some of the other PEO providers we examined didn't offer this option. We think very small businesses will find this option appealing, as it ensures they aren't paying for services they won't use.

Here are some of the specific services and benefits Oasis offers:

  • Human resources services: Job descriptions, employee handbooks, compensation planning, new-hire reporting, employment verification, unemployment claims administration, and online and on-site training.
  • Employee benefits: Health, dental and vision insurance; life and disability insurance; employee assistance programs; 401(k) retirement plans; health savings accounts; and flexible spending accounts.
  • Payroll administration: Direct deposit, payroll accrual and tracking, time and attendance, payroll record keeping, web-based payroll system and payroll tax administration.

In addition to Oasis' core offerings, clients have access to the company's staffing services at discounted rates. The staffing service provides assistance with recruitment and selection, applicant screening, candidate sourcing, testing and assessments, background checks and drug testing.

Another benefit of Oasis is that it has discount programs for both businesses and their employees. The Oasis Client Discount Program features negotiated pricing with vendors many businesses already use, including FedEx, Staples and LegalShield. The Employee Discount Program offers discounted products and services for workers, including identity theft protection, data backup, credit monitoring, home security, technology support, and shopping and entertainment.

Because pricing can vary by employer, we can't say what your costs would be. However, we do know that pricing is based on a percentage of gross payroll. Though we weren't given an exact quote, we didn't think the percentage was unreasonable or excessive.

To really understand what Oasis' costs would be, you need to get a formal proposal that outlines pricing for your specific needs.

Very small businesses will enjoy having access to Oasis' human resources management and information system. The web-based system, which can be accessed by employees and company leaders from any computer with an internet connection, eliminates the need to spend money on additional software. Because the system is cloud-based, Oasis is responsible for the IT staff, technical and administrative support, and any required upgrades.

The system provides instant access to all payroll and human resources information.  After logging in, company leaders are taken to the system's dashboard, which includes data on recent payroll runs, employee statistics and recent activity, such as new hires or salary changes, as well as training information.

From the dashboard, you can easily access different sections of the system for payroll, accounting, reports and support. The platform has a clean, easy-to-use interface.

The employee services website allows staff members to view current and past pay stubs, see paid-time-off (PTO) balances and review benefits information, such as details on their medical insurance and 401(k) balances.

In addition, both websites can be accessed via mobile devices. These are not apps you need to download from the Apple or Google Play stores. Instead, you type in a specified address into your mobile web browser. Once you're on the mobile site, you can bookmark it on your home screen for easy reference.

On the mobile sites, employers and employees can view payroll information, PTO balances, benefits-related information and other general employee information. In addition, employers can create and view help-desk tickets for assistance from Oasis, and employees can access the discount programs.

Overall, we think employees and company leaders will be impressed by the online system and appreciate how easy it is to navigate. Not all of the other PEO providers we looked into offered this type of online and mobile access.

We were very happy with the service we received from Oasis. To test the customer support, we called the company, posing as a small business owner interested in PEO services.

Our call was initially answered by a representative at Oasis' corporate offices. He asked us some preliminary questions about our business and where we were located so he could connect us with a PEO consultant in our area. After spending about 10 minutes on the phone with us, he scheduled a time for us to talk to a local representative.

The consultant who returned our call was the friendliest we encountered while examining PEO providers. Rather than jumping right in with a sales pitch, she spent some time just having a friendly conversation about our weekend, the weather, etc. While some people might prefer to forgo the small talk, we found it helped make for a more personable conversation, rather than a straight sales call.

We also liked that, before explaining the company's services, the consultant spent some time discussing Oasis as a whole, including its history, how many offices it has nationwide and how it structures its support team. This was one of the few PEO providers we spoke with that gave us an overview of the entire company. 

Once we started discussing Oasis' PEO services, we were pleased with how much detail the consultant provided. She gave very complete and thorough answers to all of our questions.  We spoke for close to 45 minutes, and by the time we were done with our call, we had a clear understanding of what Oasis offers.

The consultant followed up with an email that recapped our conversation and included links to a demo of Oasis' client services website and a video on how the company's onboarding process works. The demo and video gave us an even better picture of Oasis' online technology. None of the other services we analyzed gave us something similar.

Additionally, the consultant was the only one to send us hard copies of the company's brochures as well as articles on PEOs in general.

Oasis customers are provided with a client solutions manager in their region who visits their business in person. This allows each business to put a name to a face when reaching out for help. It also ensures that, rather than having to call a 1-800 number and speak to a different person each time, you have one person you can contact with any questions or concerns.

In addition to your main contact person, you have access to operations and human resources services teams. The operations team is a specialized group trained on the individual needs of each business. The team can handle issues related to payroll processing, benefits administration, risk services and new-hire setup. The operations team also provides support to individual employees.

The human resources team helps to deliver a number of HR-related needs, such as developing employee handbooks and conducting training. It also handles regulatory support by providing employee posters and processing leave requests.

After learning about the support Oasis provides, we were left with the impression that the company takes a very hands-on approach to customer service, which we think very small businesses will find appealing.

Oasis' website is filled with valuable tools and information. It includes articles on health care reform and management advice, as well as links to a number of small business resources. It also features videos on all of its services.

One important reason why we chose Oasis Outsourcing as our best pick was its accreditation by the Employer Services Assurance Corp. (ESAC). The ESAC is an independent nonprofit corporation that serves as the official accrediting agency of PEO providers. Earning accreditation demonstrates a PEO's financial stability, ethical business conduct, and adherence to operational standards and regulatory requirements.

Oasis was originally accredited in 2010 and is currently in good standing, according to the ESAC website. Many of the other PEOs we considered were not ESAC accredited.

Oasis is also accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). According to the BBB website, there were just four complaints filed against Oasis within the past three years. Two were resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant, while two are still awaiting resolution. It's important to note that nearly all of the PEOs we reviewed had some complaints filed against them with the BBB. However, Oasis, which has an A+ rating, had some of the fewest complaints. The majority of PEOs we investigated were not BBB accredited and did not have such a high rating.

There are a couple of potential downsides to using Oasis Outsourcing. One is in regard to the medical insurance. Depending on the state you live in, there may be a minimum number of employees required to get on Oasis' health care plan. However, if you don't meet the minimum number, Oasis will still assist you in obtaining coverage. The company will work with a health care broker on your behalf to find a plan that fits your needs. Oasis was one of the few PEO providers that would still assist you in getting health insurance if you didn't meet its minimum number of required employees.

Another possible negative is the cost structure. Rather than having fees based on a percentage of payroll, some PEO providers determine pricing on the number of employees a business has. For a very small business, there might not be a big difference in pricing for either structure. However, if you prefer a per-employee cost structure, we would encourage you to consider Insperity, our choice for the best PEO for small businesses, or Paychex, our choice for the best PEO for startups.

Want to know more about choosing a PEO? Here’s a breakdown of our full coverage:

Editor's note: Looking for information on PEOs? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.