PEO: Helping Arizona Small Businesses During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every single aspect of society — and the University of Arizona warns that our state’s small businesses have “disproportionately” borne the brunt of it. Many small businesses saw a 60% drop in revenue when COVID-19 cases first began to rise, and by mid-spring, Arizona had more small businesses hit by the coronavirus than most other states.

This pandemic has highlighted the many cracks in the system. And as more and more of our small and medium-sized businesses are forced to navigate complex government funding and new pandemic regulations, it’s revealed the importance of professional employer organizations (PEOs) for the survival and success of businesses across the Grand Canyon state.

What’s a PEO and Why Does Your Small Business Need One?

Many Arizona small businesses don’t have the budget, or the time, to hire an internal team to oversee and manage human resources and benefits. PEOs like Integrity Outsource can help by handling your taxes, payroll, retirement funds, health care responsibilities — for example, small businesses need to provide health insurance once you have more than 50 employees — and other complex human resource issues.

The need for expert advice navigating your business’ financial, health care and human resource responsibilities has grown even more critical during this pandemic.

For instance, 74,000 Arizona businesses were approved for more than $8 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program (a new federal program that provides forgivable loans), but they had just days to complete a very complex loan forgiveness process or were left with a significant financial burden.

Without a PEO as a partner, some businesses struggled to get it done in time. And this spelled life-or-death for many Arizona entrepreneurs.

A new academic whitepaper by McBassi & Company agrees. The researchers studied the impact that PEOs had on the business outcomes for their clients during the pandemic. “PEOs mobilized on an unprecedented basis to guide their clients through the PPP loan application process, providing them the required documentation to secure PPP loan proceeds and to navigate PPP loan forgiveness,” explains business consultant Dan McHenry in the study.

The researchers also found that:

  • Small businesses who used a PEO were twice as likely to be approved for a PPP loan
  • Small businesses who used a PEO had a much lower rate of having to shut down during the pandemic (1.3% of PEO clients closed, compared with the 14% nationwide average)

It’s clear that leaning on the expert support of a PEO helped thousands of entrepreneurs to navigate the chaotic complexities of running a business during a pandemic.

But a PEO like Integrity Outsource does far, far more than just help you get federal COVID-19 business funding.

3 Ways That Integrity Outsource Supported Arizona’s Small Businesses During COVID-19

1. PPP Loan Applications

As the pandemic picked up speed in the early spring, rules, regulations, and news from the federal government and the state of Arizona changed weekly (and sometimes even daily). With its extensive contacts in the industry, and its inside knowledge of the needs of Arizona’s small businesses, Integrity Outsource was able to:

  • Keep clients updated on the CARES Act and other coronavirus-related funding news.
  • Educate small businesses on exactly what they needed to know about impending funding legislation.
  • Assist with the financial process of applying for (and accessing) federal funding, including gathering payroll reports, assisting with the PPP application process, and helping small businesses apply for loan forgiveness before the fast-approaching deadlines.

“I really appreciated the PPP information [Integrity Outsource] proactively provided,” says Jeff Beall, the president of Digital Home Lifestyles. “This was above and beyond my expectations. I like the idea of [your team] looking at the bigger picture issues.”

2. Administrative Support for Unemployment Claims

By the late spring, more than 6,000 people in Arizona had filed for unemployment due to the pandemic. Small businesses without dedicated unemployment personnel struggled to keep up with demand.

As a PEO, one of Integrity Outsource’s key responsibilities is helping its clients manage unemployment claims. This includes collecting termination documentation, gathering information related to unemployment insurance fraud, and providing support for COBRA-related requests from workers and their families who recently experienced job loss.

3. Human Resource Regulations and Pandemic Legislation Compliance

Small businesses were quickly overwhelmed with federal, state, and local rules regarding COVID-19. As a trusted partner and a PEO, Integrity Outsource helped its clients navigate the constantly evolving situation, including:

  • Providing guidance on new legislation that would affect your small business (e.g. the Families First Coronavirus Response Act)
  • Consulting on emergency paid leave, expanded FMLA policies, and unique circumstances that clients experienced during these unusual, stressful times
  • Handling the increasing flow of communication and forms as businesses and their employees struggled to make ends meet (e.g. employee furlough forms, employee assistance documentation, etc.)

Integrity Outsource also helped entrepreneurs and small business owners to develop safety protocols around COVID-19, such as what to do if a team member tested positive for the coronavirus.  And, when the time came, clients came to Integrity Outsource for support on how to safely reopen a business as the state of Arizona eased restrictions.

“Accram has been with Integrity Outsource for more than two years,” says Bob Daquilante, president of Accram, Inc., in Phoenix. “They have been an indispensable business partner especially during this COVID crisis. The HR advice has been spot on. I would highly recommend Integrity Outsource for payroll and HR.”

How Can Integrity Outsource’s PEO Services Support Your Small Business Today?

These are trying times, but more and more of us are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Whether you’re struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic, or your small businesses are already scaling up for a brighter and more financially stable future, the HR strategists and HR policy advisors at Integrity Outsource can help.

From drafting your employee policies about COVID-19 testing, or figuring out the specific regulations and rules that you need to discuss with your staff, contact us today to schedule a consultation with a certified HR professional.

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