By Andrew Martins, business.com Writer | Updated Jan 09, 2020
When searching for employee scheduling software, you want as many useful features as possible, a user interface that's easy to understand, and seamless integration with business software apps you already own. Homebase's offerings not only include all of those things, but it also comes with error tracking and labor law compliance features that distinguish this application from others we evaluated, and makes it our pick as the best overall employee scheduling software program.
To view all of our recommendations for employee scheduling software, visit our best picks page.
The price of employee scheduling software is fairly straightforward. Nearly every software program is based on a subscription, and allows for varying numbers of locations and users to be covered by the service. Homebase is no different. Businesses that sign up with Homebase can either subscribe at a monthly or yearly rate. While the former provides some flexibility (you can withdraw from the agreement, if needed), the latter option can reduce overall costs.
Homebase offers three service tiers, each with varying levels of functionality at different costs. Which plan you choose depends entirely on your needs. Pricing is based on the number of locations covered by the service, but it allows for unlimited users. Here's more about the tiers Homebase offers, along with some of the features available at each level:
- Basic: For companies that either want to try the service out or only need to cover a single location, Homebase offers a free Basic tier. Users get access to a rudimentary online scheduler; time tracking and payroll preparation capabilities; simplified hiring processes; and the ability for employees to view their schedule, hours, pay, and time off.
- Essentials: Available for $19.95 per month, per location or $192 per year, per location, the Essentials tier gives companies access to every feature in the Basic plan plus advanced communication tools, schedule optimization tools, better support when adding team managers, and ways to quantify employee engagement and performance.
- Plus: If your business needs extensive features, the Plus tier will likely be the best fit. At $49.95 per month, per location or $480 per year, per location, this tier includes every feature in the two preceding tiers as well as a set of labor cost controls, labor law compliance support, and the ability to remotely provide oversight over your company. This tier also comes with the ability to set custom permissions so you can personally tailor Homebase to better fit your needs. According to Homebase, Plus is its most popular subscription tier.
- Enterprise: Aimed at significantly larger operations, the Enterprise tier truly comes with everything Homebase has to offer, including custom reports, a dedicated account manager and API access. Since enterprise-level employee scheduling requires many moving parts, Homebase doesn't disclose pricing for this tier – you will need to contact Homebase's sales department to discuss pricing.
Companies can take advantage of a 14-day, all-access trial to Homebase's Plus plan. The company doesn't require a credit card to take advantage of the free trial.
Homebase doesn't charge fees to use the employee and management apps, nor does it charge support fees. Homebase's plans include unlimited SMS text messages, and there are zero scheduling limits, so employee schedules can be set well in advance if you choose.
At the end of the day, the most important aspect of an employee scheduling software application is how it performs. Without the right features and tools, your business would be best served looking elsewhere. In our research, we found that Homebase is not only priced well, but it offers a range of features that are sure to please business owners, regardless of the size of their company.
First and foremost is the fact that Homebase's timeclock app is free. Through the app, users can turn their internet browser or mobile device into a GPS-enabled timeclock so employees can clock in for their shifts, and managers can track things like paid and unpaid breaks and labor costs in real time. Furthermore, through the app, companies can enforce timeclock rules to prevent early clock-ins and unapproved overtime.
Homebase offers free scheduling and timesheet iOS and Android apps. In both instances, managers can use the apps to manage labor costs. With the scheduling app, managers can use drag-and-drop functionality to easily manage a team's daily, weekly, and monthly schedules. Schedules can be viewed by role, time period, or employee, and hours are calculated immediately. If schedules are fixed, i.e., established, managers can easily copy the previous week's setup or use automatic scheduling, which creates schedules based on employee availability and role. The app notifies users of any scheduling conflicts.
Managers always have the final say in the schedule-making process, but through the app, employees can set their availability, request time off, or trade shifts with other employees. When an employee sends in a request – whether for a shift swap, time off or any other request – the software notifies the manager via email with a link that goes directly to the request so the supervisor can either approve or reject it.
Users can set up mobile alerts that go directly to employees' phones via text message. Homebase also offers an in-program messaging tool that allows managers to communicate messages to employees that they will see when they log in to the software.
If you need your employee scheduling software solution to integrate with software you're already using, you'll be happy to know that Homebase integrates with many solutions. Restaurant business tools like Bevspot and Ctuit; POS software like Square, Clover, and Toast; and payroll solutions like ADP and Intuit QuickBooks are all supported by Homebase.
Homebase stands above the other employee scheduling software we evaluated, but its features and flexibility don't mean that's all it offers. Homebase also has the ability to serve as a hiring platform. As yet another free solution, companies can post job openings to the top online job boards in "less than 60 seconds," according to company representatives. Once applications start coming in, managers can sort, filter and schedule interviews with prospective employees.
When it comes to reports, Homebase offers a number of different readouts. However, the lower service tiers only offer four reports, while the higher tiers offer nine. Attendance reports are available so you can see who is missing shifts or consistently arriving late. Labor cost reports are also available, with these showing how much your schedules cost your company based on the hours employees work and their pay rates. Other reports include a sales versus labor summary and a feedback score from your employees. Homebase allows your employees to rate their schedules and their work experiences for a shift, which lets you track employee satisfaction.
We were also pleased with our interaction with customer service. The representatives we spoke with on the phone and through the company's live web chat were affable and courteous. They answered our questions clearly and asked questions of us to learn more about our faux business.
It's not a secret that we think Homebase is the best employee scheduling software for small businesses, but one thing you should be aware of when considering their application is that it has a slightly longer setup time (longer than we would have liked). We're not saying the setup time was significantly longer than other vendors, but it was noticeable enough to mention it here.