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The Best Employee Scheduling Software of 2020

By
Andrew Martins
,
business.com writer
|
Jan 09, 2020
Image Credit: AndreyPopov / Getty Images
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Of all the resources that business owners must keep track of, the most finite is time. With an efficiently crafted work schedule for each employee, operations can run smoothly and cost-effectively, boosting productivity and profitability at the same time. The right employee scheduling software makes it easy to create and track your employees' weekly and daily schedules. If your company needs a simple way for clients to schedule appointments with your staff, you will also need a good piece of appointment scheduling software.

After conducting a deep dive into both the employee scheduling and appointment scheduling software landscapes, we found the following services to be the best for different business needs.

Best Picks

What Is Employee Scheduling Software?

Regardless of what your company does, if you have employees, you'll need an employee scheduling app that both you and your workforce can understand. If you don't properly convey your scheduling needs and expectations, you'll eventually run into a situation where either your workers are shorthanded and unable to properly do their jobs or you have too many people on the clock at one time, greatly inflating labor costs without giving you much of a productivity boost in return.

Employee scheduling software helps businesses streamline the schedule creation and maintenance process. Rather than managers filling out each employee's schedule by hand or scheduling individuals based on a hunch about their effectiveness in a certain shift, employee scheduling software can provide detailed data to help you create the most effective schedule possible. Once it's implemented, managers can also gauge how much time off people are using and where inefficiencies exist in the schedule, helping the company save time and money in the long run.

With the right employee scheduling software in place, businesses of all sizes not only become more efficient, with less to worry about in terms of labor costs, but can also more easily forecast the potential workload at certain times of day. For example, a restaurant owner can chart out when regular meal rushes happen and plan schedules accordingly.

Depending on the type of employee scheduling software, employees can also enjoy some huge benefits from its implementation. With most of today's platforms functioning in the cloud, employees can access their schedules from any location on their mobile devices, get instant notifications about shift changes and adapt to any changes at a moment's notice. Employees can also set their own availability through a staff scheduling platform rather than relying on their manager's memory.

In addition to employee scheduling software, employee booking platforms can be a huge boon to small businesses that require customers to make appointments in advance. You won't need to hire a receptionist to take down any incoming appointments, as most modern booking software lets customers book their own appointments either online or via mobile app. This not only saves time and money, but lets employees know when they're booked and puts customers in the driver's seat throughout the process.

 

Reviews

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 by Industry

While employee scheduling software can benefit all kinds of businesses, there are certain factors to take into account based on your company's industry.

In most instances, the type of employee scheduling software that fits the widest range of industries is the one that acts largely as a facilitator of employee schedules. Throughout our research, we found this style makes up a majority of employee scheduling software. In this category, managers can create schedules that employees can view.

What separates the platforms is the features. Some solutions have a built-in machine learning mechanism that can eventually generate schedules on its own, based on employees' availability, competency levels and the expected business during a shift.

There's also a subset of employee scheduling software for businesses in the services industry, where team members are booked as needed by customers. These programs let customers book a meeting or session with an employee. This style is generally seen in healthcare, with massage therapists and chiropractors using the software on their business websites. As with the other platforms, employees can set their availability, making them less likely to get booked when they can't work and reducing the number of cancellations.

How to Choose Your Employee Scheduling Software

When you're deciding which employee scheduling program your business needs, the first and most important thing to consider is what purpose it will serve. As mentioned above, there are two main uses for such platforms: creating work schedules and booking employees for services.

When you've recognized the function you need, you should also consider the features you want. If you're going with the schedule creation style of program, do you want it to be web-based or not? Do you want employees to be able to jockey for favorable time slots when they become available or make it easy for them to swap shifts with one another? How much freedom do you want to give employees to set their preferred availability?

If you're getting one of the booking and employee engagement platforms, do you want to integrate the program with your website so your customers can book their next appointment without leaving your homepage? What about messaging between customers and your employees? These features and more exist in some form in many of the programs we examined.

Once you choose the software's form and function, another big consideration is how much it will ultimately cost you. As a small business owner, you're already cognizant of your bottom line. The cost of employee scheduling software recurs on a monthly or yearly basis. More specific pricing information is available below.

Pricing

If you're in the market for employee scheduling software, you are looking at entering into a monthly, subscription-based service. Some services charge a small fee per employee each month, while others charge a monthly fee that covers up to a fixed number of employees. Other platforms charge a monthly fee on a per-location basis. There are no long-term contracts to sign, but some vendors require you to provide written notice in advance before closing your account.

Like most subscription-based services, every staff scheduling program offers multiple service tiers, with the more expensive options including more advanced features, larger employee bases or both. If you're considering a certain program, look for a free tier or trial period, as most vendors offer one or the other. That's a great way to give a service a try before adding an employee scheduling solution to your company's operating costs.

Ultimately, you have to consider how many employees and locations you have, and which features you really need out of an employee scheduling solution. Sometimes the free tier will fill all of your needs, especially if you run a particularly small operation. Note which features land on which service tier and compare those findings with other staff scheduling companies. What one company considers a premium feature could be included in a lower tier elsewhere. Also make sure that whichever company you go with offers some sort of knowledgebase or training materials, since employee scheduling software is only an asset if you know how to use it and make sure your workers get paid for their efforts.

Instead of paying a monthly fee, you can usually opt to pay for a full year upfront. This usually results in overall savings, but you should be absolutely sure that you want to stick with the service for the full year. If you decide to cancel before the term ends, some companies will offer a prorated refund, though you will want to check the agreement before attempting to sever ties, in case there's a hefty fee.

Our Methodology

To properly evaluate staff scheduling and booking services, we dedicated significant time to researching the industry, focusing on the features, options and prices that set the best options apart. We compiled a list of 21 vendors based largely on independent research, though we also considered other vendor lists, reviews from other sources, and any companies that requested to be added to our list.

After establishing the list of services we would evaluate, we visited each company's website to note its services, features and pricing models. We also sought out customer testimonials and third-party reviews to weed out any services that didn't seem like good picks for small businesses.

Once we'd compiled enough information on each company, we closely compared them to establish a shortlist for each use case. We participated in free trials if they were available, booked demos with sales representatives or found other ways to get a feel for the services. We also reached out to speak with customer service or sales representatives to get a better feeling of their services and pricing while also seeing how they treat potential customers.

During those calls, we posed as a small business owner looking for employee scheduling software. We gave the same details about our faux businesses and posed the same questions to each representative. Noting each rep's responses and overall demeanor, we recorded our customer service experience before choosing our best picks.

The following are some of the more important criteria and questions we considered when evaluating each employee scheduling option:

  • With what business software can this option interface? Running a small business means dealing with many moving parts. A good employee scheduling solution can tap into many other pieces of business software, such as the entire Microsoft Office 365 suite or a POS system, streamlining multiple processes without much effort. If a service has a native iOS or Android app that employees and managers can use, that's even better, since both sides can benefit from the mobile convenience.

  • What features can my employees expect? Employees need to know when they're working and what's expected of them every week, so a good employee scheduling platform should have some employee-facing features. In addition to a mobile app, employees greatly benefit from software that allows them to set their availability, request to swap shifts with their co-workers or just view their schedules from anywhere.

  • Is an integrated timeclock available? The days of a physical timeclock that each employee punches are mostly gone. As such, employee scheduling software that allows staff to clock in reduces the chances that a manger will have to transfer or manually reenter hours into the system. Integrated time-tracking capabilities save time and reduce or even eliminate errors.

  • Does this software help with labor law compliance? Labor law compliance is incredibly important when you have employees on your payroll. Fail to comply and you could find yourself in hot water with major government entities. The best employee scheduling platforms have persistent checks in place that make sure you're not falling out of compliance with local and federal labor laws, including overtime regulations and advance-notice requirements for schedule changes.

Common Employee Scheduling Software Questions & Answers

Have an employee scheduling software question of your own?
Ask an Expert

What are your biggest time wasters (and how do you get rid of them)?

8 responses
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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...

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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!!!!

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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....

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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.

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You should look up our product, ClockIt: https://clockit.io We are easily one of the few tools that have a vast majority of the features that are otherwise spread across multiple tools. Our simply pricing is tailored towards small and medium businesses. We also include all features in the same pricing tier and do not feature gate anything.

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Hi Jane, I'm hoping that some of our experts will come to your rescue here with an answer to this unique situation. However, I did some of my own research to see if I could find anything that meets your requirements. On our sister site, Business News Daily, I came across an article about using Facebook for scheduling. It looks like FB just recently launched an update where you can allow "customers" to create appointments through your Facebook page. I do not know much about it and have never...

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