By Sammi Soutar, CAE, President, Able Management Solutions, Inc.

      Want to save time, reduce paperwork and even cut the overhead associated with human resources?
  Fire everybody.
That may sound drastic, but when partnering with a professional employer organization (PEO), it's really just a paper transaction. Once you have let everyone go, including yourself, the PEO rehires the staff and leases them back to your organization.
      PEOs have become a fixture in this age of downsizing and outsourcing. Many businesses, both small and large, are turning to PEOs in part to sidestep the issue of employer liability, but primarily to ease the administrative burden and associated costs related to maintaining an internal human resource department.
        According to information posted at the web site hosted by the National Association of PEOs (NAPEO), it is now a $43 billion industry with an estimated 800 companies employing more than 2-3 million Americans  to staff client businesses.
     Association execs are also discovering the benefits of moving HR off the premises and attaching themselves to a PEO that will administer a diverse bundle of employee-related services, including payroll, payroll taxes, benefits, workers comp, unemployment claims, retirement plans and so on. Because of their volume-buying power and other resources, PEOs can often provide insurance benefits at a savings, as well as cut clients' costs related to monitoring and complying with employment law.
     But look before you leap. Assess your human resource needs and costs before you sign on the dotted line. Check the financial stability of  PEOs you're considering. Make sure the service agreement spells out fees, services and liabilities clearly and contains a termination clause you can live with.
      The right PEO can be a terrific partner. Choose wisely, and you can sweep that pile of paper off your desk.