The right employee scheduling software can save you time, reduce frustration and help you create better schedules for your staff members. However, there are multiple factors to consider when comparing systems, including cost, compatibility and ease of use.
Most small businesses want scheduling software that's affordable, includes mobile apps and a time clock, and integrates with other business programs such as payroll and accounting. We looked for these features as we considered which employee scheduling software to recommend. If, however, you're looking for a solution that helps your clients schedule appointments with your staff, see our picks below for the best appointment scheduling software and the best budget booking apps.
We want to help you choose employee scheduling software that reduces the tedium of creating schedules. Homebase, Humanity and Deputy topped our list for employee scheduling software. Below, you can read more about them, along with information on how much they cost, how to make sure you get a good deal, and the features you should look for in a system.
Humanity ranks among the best scheduling software because it's simple to use, has a user-friendly interface and offers strong customer support. Its iOS and Android apps make it easy for your employees to check their schedules, clock in and out, swap shifts, bid on open shifts, and submit time-off requests. They can also check the app for messages or announcements.
This employee scheduling software has drag-and-drop functionality and allows you to fill shifts based on the skill levels of your employees. It also has a bulk scheduling wizard that can automatically generate schedules. You can set up the system to send push notifications, texts and emails to your employees to let them know about shift changes and remind them when they're scheduled to work.
Homebase is the best employee scheduling software because it includes a rich selection of features, has an intuitive interface that makes it easy to use, and is competitively priced. It's also the only software we reviewed that offers a free tier, which may be useful for companies that want a longer trial period before choosing a program or for very small companies with tight budgets.
The free Basic plan includes scheduling, time tracking, team communication and reporting features. It also includes access to Homebase's mobile apps for both managers and employees. The company offers three paid plans: Essentials, Plus and Enterprise. Instead of charging per employee per month, Homebase charges per location per month. The Essentials plan costs $10 and, in addition to the Basic plan's features, supports text notifications and a mobile GPS time clock. The Plus plan costs $30 and supports multiple wage rates, role types and locations. The Enterprise plan includes advanced features such as auto-scheduling and forecasting, though you must call the company for a pricing quote.
Deputy is among the top scheduling software because it has a well-rounded set of features and integrates with more than 40 popular business systems for payroll, accounting and POS. It's also easy for employees to use, with a logical interface and mobile apps for Apple and Android phones and tablets.
This employee scheduling software can be used by businesses with one or multiple locations. It includes daily and weekly schedule templates that allow you to save and reuse schedules, saving you the time it would take to create them each week from scratch. Deputy identifies scheduling conflicts and requires you to resolve them before it allows you to publish a schedule. When you connect Deputy to your POS system and a live weather feed, it can help you anticipate sales traffic so you can schedule the right number of staff for your busy and slow times. Although it doesn't have as many reports as its competitors, the few it offers are thorough and useful, and you can customize them by day, time, employee and other criteria.
When you're looking for software that helps you schedule customer appointments, Acuity Scheduling is the best choice. It's affordable, has a strong feature set and is easy to use. With this online booking platform, your customers can schedule their own appointments. They can also set recurring appointments, receive price quotes for scheduled services and cancel appointments. There are four plans available from Acuity Scheduling, including a free tier for a single user and paid plans that start at $10 per month.
The system can be set to automatically send confirmation emails for each appointment your customers set or cancel. If you have intake paperwork, your clients can complete it online through the system, speeding up the check-in process when they arrive for their appointments. You can also set up the system to accept payments online so your customers can pay in advance when they book their appointments.
TimeForge Scheduling has its ups and downs, but if reporting is what sells you on scheduling software, it's worth a look. TimeForge Scheduling offers more customizable reports than any other employee scheduling program we tested, by a huge margin: This system has over 55 reports, while many others we reviewed have fewer than 20.
When the reporting in TimeForge is compared against our top pick, it still comes out ahead, not only because of the sheer variety of reports available but also because of the overall functionality of those reports. TimeForge includes visualization tools that make data more accessible, especially for presenting, like color-coded bar graphs. The TimeForge reports themselves cover an array of topics, including attendance, shift swapping, labor costs and employee retention. Plus, TimeForge has an online knowledge base that includes training videos and links to the manuals and FAQs.
While Homebase earned top spot overall in our employee scheduling software category, Planday is a fantastic option for businesses that place a premium on quick setup time. The affordable Starter rate for Planday is $2 per user per month, and the Plus version is $4 per user per month. For an additional $1 per user per month, Planday will provide an add-on punch clock. Planday allows users to upgrade or downgrade at any time, according to the number of users and the desired functionality, so this software is great for small businesses that are growing.
Planday can be deployed quickly for two basic reasons: It's easy to use and not cluttered with features. While many people tend to think more features is always better than fewer features, what they overlook is that the more features there are, the more there is to configure, customize and input. Since Planday is a relatively basic scheduling solution, there simply isn't that much to do to get it off the ground and in the hands of your employees. In fact, Planday had the shortest setup time out of all the systems we reviewed. Additionally, the interface is so intuitive and clean that training needs are minimal on the administrative and staff side.
The best budget booking app for small businesses is Setmore, because it offers powerful online appointment scheduling tools at a low cost. The company's basic software is free, and its premium plan costs $25 per month, with a discount available if you pay annually. It supports up to 20 users, though more can be added to the system for a higher fee.
You can connect Setmore to your website, blog, Facebook page and Instagram account. It also integrates with Google, Outlook and Office 365 calendars, as well as with business programs like MailChimp, Salesforce and Google Analytics.
Below are all of our reviews for employees and business scheduling software and related categories. Our coverage includes reviews of both the best employee scheduling software and business scheduling software. Sell all of our reviews below.
Employee scheduling software is a subscription-based service with a monthly fee. Some services charge a few dollars per employee per month (usually around $2), while others charge a set monthly fee that supports up to a certain number of employees. Alternately, a few companies charge a set monthly fee per location. Most software providers don't require you to sign a lengthy contract, though you may need to provide written notice several weeks in advance before some companies will close your account.
Every employee scheduling company offers multiple service tiers. Some higher tiers include premium features, while others support larger numbers of employees. Only one of the companies we reviewed has a free tier, though most offer a 30-day free trial.
When evaluating pricing, you need to consider how many employees and locations you have, as well as which features you need so you can determine whether the basic service tier will meet your needs or you'll need a premium tier. For example, most companies include time tracking in a higher tier or as an add-on service for an additional cost, but a few include it in their basic plans. You should also find out if there are any upfront fees for installation or training that you should add into your calculations.
When you're ready to choose employee scheduling software for your business, consider the following tips to help you make sure you're getting a good deal.
Take advantage of the free trial. Most companies provide a 30-day free trial. Use this time to determine if the employee scheduling software is a good fit for your business. Even if you're certain about the software you're planning to purchase, you should accept the free trial, since it saves you one month's worth of fees.
If you can afford it, pay annually rather than monthly. Many companies give you a price break if you pay annually rather than monthly. However, you should make sure the company will provide you with a prorated refund if you decide to cancel before the end of the term. Otherwise, you should opt for monthly payments unless you're confident that the software meets your needs and you'll be happy with it for the entire year.
Determine whether you qualify for a discount. Several companies offer discounts to nonprofits or members of professional associations. For example, Zip Schedules offers discounts to members of the National Restaurant Association. Others offer discounts to businesses that have a large number of employees or multiple locations.
Make sure there's no monthly minimum. Many software providers charge per employee, and an average of $2 to $6 sounds like a great deal. However, if there's a $40 minimum, you may end up paying more than you planned, especially if you don't have a lot of employees.
Find out about fees. Some employee scheduling companies charge a setup or installation fee. Others may charge extra for certain features. Make sure you understand exactly how much the software costs so you're not surprised by random fees when you get the bill.
Examine the services offered in higher tiers. Are there any features that you're currently paying more for elsewhere? For example, several services include time tracking at a higher tier or for an extra fee. Would adding this service to your employee scheduling software be less expensive than what you're paying for separate software?
See if it integrates with the business software you already use. This is especially worth looking into if you use another program for tracking time, such as a payroll or POS system. Although this tip may not directly save you money, it can save you the time you would otherwise spend transferring or re-entering data.
State of the Industry
Scheduling can be a headache for small businesses that have complex employee scheduling needs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014 report, 58.7 percent of workers are hourly employees. Although some of these workers have regular shifts, others have erratic shifts, with variable hours, days and even locations.
Many such businesses are in the retail and restaurant industries. According to a 2016 survey of retail managers, 82 percent of retail stores are understaffed each week, and 62 percent of managers say that they've had employees quit due to ongoing scheduling conflicts. Choosing the right employee scheduling system can alleviate these issues by giving you and your staff the tools to create good schedules quickly and easily.
The best employee scheduling software includes the following features:
Mobile apps and text notifications. iOS and Android apps allow you and your staff members to access the system wherever you are, so you can easily check schedules, send messages and receive alerts. Most can be set up to text employees reminders about upcoming shifts and to alert managers when employee have submitted requests for time off or shift changes.
Employee availability preferences. Software that allows your staff to indicate the days and hours they're available to work can prevent scheduling conflicts and missed shifts.
Shift-changing tools for employees. Scheduling apps should make it easy for your employees to pick up, drop or swap shifts. After a manager approves these requests, the schedule should automatically update in the system.
Time clock, as a built-in feature or integration. Not having to transfer or manually re-enter your employees' hours into other systems saves time and eliminates errors.
Compliance with labor regulations. The software should have checks in place that help you comply with labor regulations, such as overtime laws and advance-notice requirements for schedule changes.
Common Employee Scheduling Software Questions & Answers
Have an employee scheduling software question of your own?
Use this www.calendly.com
It is a Godsend, it is like an automatic scheduler, no more back and forth emails on coordinating with people.
All you do is send people your link on the calendar and then they figure out what's a good time for them looking at your availability
It will integrate with other Apps like Zapier
YOU MUST HAVE IT!!!!
Have everyone using Google Calendar and make the each persons dog walking schedule collaborative back to you, with everything else kept private. This is just about a standard now, and with any SMS alerts or email reminders you may wish to setup you can't go wrong.
Procedure would be:
- Add event in your master calendar, but choose their calendar within yours in terms of where it will show up as well. You will own the event, but seen on their ones as well.
While there are many other options for time tracking tools like Toggl, ManicTime, Time Tracking by AND Co, options for a completely free tool seem a little less. Some of these tools have a very negligible fee and also provide free versions, their free versions, however, impose some limitations on the team size. The paid versions definitely offer you a lot more features.
Another alternative to this is to get a custom tool created for your business. Although it will require...
My gut instinct is that if the trust level is that low, management is doing a poor job recruiting good people and earning the trust and respect of those employees. You have uncovered the tip of a much deeper issue.
I have been using TimeTrade.com. It's an easy app that links to your Google calendar and allows clients to make their own appointments. You just set up the days/hours you want to allow the client to have access to. If your google calendar is already booked for that timeslot, the timetrade.com will show it as busy. It automatically sends a confirmation to the client and yourself; as well as the option for them to cancel or reschedule. You can try it out for free. And it's only $50 for the year....
Good question... Getting back from breaks. I know I need breaks, and I make myself have breaks in order to stay productive, but coming back to work can be a struggle.
As for email conquering, there are a few steps I found to be extremely helpful:
1. The majority of your email traffic should SKIP your Inbox
2. Create a small number of designated folders. Five is a good number. This is where most of the traffic goes, to be checked a couple times a week.
3. Check email no more than 2-3 TIMES...