Employee scheduling software automates work schedules by providing an online calendar that outlines employee schedules and availability. We considered the best employee scheduling software that gives your team mobile apps for schedules, messages, leave requests, and shift-swaps. Most cost just a few dollars per month, per employee, with some being entirely free for a single location.
8 Best Employee Scheduling Software for 2020
Employee Scheduling Software
(Best overall) Most businesses, especially startups, that need a free plan with strong scheduling tools
One-location brick-and-mortar retailers and restaurants that want unlimited free employee shift scheduling
Hospitality industries with tight margins that need to control labor
Companies concerned with managing break and overtime compliance for hourly workers
Larger restaurant operations managing complex employee work shifts
Multilocation and global entities that share employees across multiple job sites
Union environments, regulated industries, and government contractor firms
Service businesses tracking employee time against prescheduled appointments
How We Evaluated the Best Employee Scheduling Software
We checked out the best employee scheduling software tools for small businesses across multiple industries. Most offer smartphone apps, manager approvals, workflow prioritization, employee communication, shift swapping, and leave management. Some also include time and attendance tracking in the base price (or free) and provide a means to upload that data for payroll processing. A few even give you hiring tools to help you fill open shifts.
The reality is that most of these options offer many of the same dynamic tools and benefits, but how they offer these tools and benefits is where each one differs. To that end, we share what users think about each option, but you will have to take an up close look at each one yourself to determine what is right for you.
Right out of the gate we want to declare our overall favorite. We recommend When I Work as the best overall employee scheduling software because it provides most of these scheduling features for free if you have fewer than 75 employees. If that is what you’re looking for then you might also want to read our article on the best free employee scheduling software. For a quick audio comparison of the tools in this article, please click the button below.
When I Work: Best Overall Employee Scheduling Software
When I Work is the best employee scheduling software for businesses across any industry due to its intuitive interface, free mobile application and overall pricing. Plus, When I Work offers a free plan (perfect for startups and small businesses) if you have 75 or fewer employees. The free plan lets you schedule one week into the future, track time worked, and export time sheets. Paid tiers offer high-function features like GPS location-based scheduling and job instructions.
When I Work Strengths
When I Work Weaknesses
Intuitive and free mobile app for Apple and Android
Phone support—it’s live chat and email only. It’s also not available 24/7
Free hiring app with job posting features
Pre-scheduled appointments are difficult, as there’s no appointment management tool
Hiring, group email, scheduling, and time tracking tools work together seamlessly
No specific tab for reporting; its reporting tools are less intuitive than others tested
When I Work Pricing
When I Work is super affordable with per employee pricing that ranges from free up to $2.25 per employee a month, based on the specific features you want. You can add time and attendance tracking to the paid plans for between $1.30 and $1.60 per month, per employee. It also has an enterprise version (not shown below) with volume discounts. However, the Free Forever plan is the best option for smaller (one-location) firms.
When I Work Pricing Tiers
$1.50/employee, per month
$2.25/employee, per month
Number of Employees
Number of Locations
Time and Attendance
+$1.30/month, per employee
+$1.60/month, per employee
Reports and Integrations
When I Work Features
In addition to the scheduling and communication tools common to all the best employee scheduling software programs we analyzed, When I Work lets you add job site locations and work notes to your employee’s schedules—like gate entry codes and client instructions. When I Work can manage team tasks and team monitor progress. And, it’s free for scheduling up to 75 employees in one location.
- When I Work Ease of Use: Its Google-ish interface makes it easy to make changes on the fly and its mobile apps are easy for your employees to use.
- When I Work Scheduling Process: You can request workers to fill open time slots in your schedule and communicate with employees through an app. You can set it up to enable shift swapping and also to schedule resources like work trucks, cash registers, and room assignments.
- Interfaces and Reports: If you upgrade to a paid plan, When I Work integrates with POS vendors like Square and Vend POS as well as payroll providers like QuickBooks, ADP, and Gusto—our recommended payroll provider for small businesses.
- Customer Support: Online chat support Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central time. Or, send a support ticket request via email seven days a week.
Homebase: Best Free Employee Scheduling Software for Brick & Mortar
Homebase is our top pick for small businesses with physical locations, including restaurants and retail stores. That’s because it’s priced based on your business’ physical location, unlike other vendors that charge based on how many employees you have. If you only have one location, Homebase is free with no limit to the number of employees using the system at that site.
Homebase (like When I Work), has recently added tools like a managers’ log, labor costing, and enhanced reporting, making its pricing the best overall, even if you were to pay for each location. Homebase also interfaces with HR/payroll software Gusto with just one click.
Early clock-in prevention and GPS tracking to ensure your employees are on the job upon clock in
Must upgrade to the Plus package if you want the timesheet approvals, early clock-in prevention, or labor costing features
Offers job board posting features and hourly employee locator to fill open schedules
Is priced per location (which is OK for some) and not number of employees
Provides sample job descriptions for common hourly jobs
Homebase also lacks live customer support on the weekends
Homebase ranges in price from free for its Basic plan to $49.95 per site for its Plus plan. It charges by physical worksite location, not by employee, so it’s ideal if you manage workers in an office, restaurant, or store, because your pricing won’t fluctuate as your staffing levels change. It also offers an Enterprise package that includes an application programming interface (API) plugin that makes other business software integration possible. The Enterprise plan costs $99.95 a month per location.
Homebase Pricing Tiers for Small Business
Price per location
$19.95/site, per month
$49.95/site, per month
Number of Employees
Number of Locations
Scheduling and Timekeeping
In addition to the standard scheduling features in all the employee scheduling software programs we reviewed, Homebase lets you set up schedules in minutes using its drag-and-drop interface. It gives employees a free top-rated iOS or Android mobile app that they can use to manage their time off, view their work schedules, and communicate with their manager.
If the mobile app is what you choose to use for employee time and attendance instead of an on-site kiosk, laptop, or computer, the Homebase Basic plan is free forever, regardless of how many employees you have.
- Homebase Ease of Use: You can set up your first work schedule in less than five minutes. We liked the Homebase drag-and-drop interface.
- Homebase Scheduling Process: You can duplicate the prior week’s schedule and Homebase prevents you from scheduling employees not qualified for the job role or having a schedule conflict.
- Homebase Interfaces and Reports: Homebase Integrates with point-of-sale systems like Lightspeed, accounting systems like QuickBooks, payroll systems like ADP, and most large banks.
- Homebase Customer Support: Provides phone and website support weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time—even for users of the free plan. Email responses within 24 hours or sooner. On-line chats are also available.
Humanity: Best for Managing Performance and Labor Costs
What makes Humanity a solid choice for employee scheduling is that it provides tools, templates, and reports to manage your labor costs as well as job performance. Salaried staff can control their schedules while you’ll have templates to build shifts for your hourly workers. In addition, you can set up rules to give your team members as much or little schedule control as you want, like shift trading.
Forecasting is available to maximize your scheduling efficiently
Does not schedule resources if your employee needs to be assigned a piece of equipment or a vehicle for their job
You customize your rules to give yourself or your manager warnings for overtime and breaks
Not many software integrations for small business apps
Helps track labor laws and required leaves
To get any integrations, you have to purchase a plan upgrade
Humanity costs $2 to $4 per month, per employee, for the plans most appropriate for small business’ employee scheduling needs. The Starter plan is best for scheduling teams with a centralized administrative dashboard. The Classic and Enterprise plans are more suitable for mid-size and larger businesses, adding API, analytics, and integrations to popular business software.
Humanity Pricing Tiers & Features
$2/month, per user
$4/month, per user
Mobile Employee Scheduling With Time Off Management
Time & Attendance
Geolocation Clock I and Clock Out
Reporting and Analytics
HR and API integrations
Humanity’s starter plan tracks employee time off and lets you build an employee schedule. Auto scheduling, forecasting, and multi-location scheduling all require a paid plan. In addition, if you want time and attendance features, you have to upgrade to a paid plan at twice the cost of the scheduling software alone. In contrast, those features come included (even in the free plans) with When I Work and Homebase.
- Humanity Ease of Use: Uses a drag-and-drop interface, similar to Homebase. To help avoid conflicts, it will alert you automatically if a worker is already scheduled for another shift at that time.
- Humanity Scheduling Process: You can edit the scheduled start and stop times in a calendar format and add notes as you’re scheduling.
- Humanity Interfaces and Reports: Interfaces with accounting software like QuickBooks, POS software like Square, project management software like Workday, and many top payroll software providers. If you upgrade to the Classic tier or higher, custom reports to track labor costs, wage costs, attendance, payroll, and more are offered.
- Humanity Customer Support: Support agents can assist you and your managers through live chat 24/7, 365 days a year. The online help center lets you download training resources and participate in community discussions.
Paycor: Best for Businesses Managing Hourly Workers
In May 2019, Ximble was acquired by Paycor. Ximble is now Paycor Scheduling and Paycor Scheduling Pro. The integration of Ximble into Paycor is good news for longtime Ximble customers, as several exciting features are added to their offering like faster schedule creation, easy shift swapping, and a powerful mobile app experience. As has been the case, Paycor/Ximble remains a solid recommendation for businesses seeking employee scheduling software that can support hourly and shift schedules with built-in breaks and lunchtimes to support an hourly workforce.
Paycor (Ximble) Strengths
Paycor (Ximble) Weaknesses
Offers scheduling forecasting, automated notifications, and real-time employee communication
Does not offer a free plan
Easily customizable software
Althouogh enhanced by Paycor, it's unclear how robust customer service by phone is on the weekends
Messaging features similar to Homebase and When I Work
The ability for employees to manage their own information is lacking
Paycor/Ximble costs more than the other employee scheduling software presented thus far. It ranges from $3 to $5 a month, per employee, and some of its plans charge a monthly service fee of $15 on top of that. For example, if you want payroll, HR, or POS software integrations or need to manage paid time off, you’d have to choose the Advanced plan as shown in the pricing table below.
Paycor Pricing and Features
$3/month, per user
$5/month, per user
By quote only
Scheduling and Shift Trading
Time and Attendance
Data export only
Paycor/Ximble offers all the most common small business scheduling tools as well as provides a text chat function like Homebase and When I Work. Small firms with hourly workers may want to use its facial recognition or photo time clock feature to help reduce buddy punching and time theft.
- Paycor Ease of Use: It’s easy to create and edit schedules. Employees can view their schedule through a smartphone and can message you using the team chat features.
- Paycor Scheduling Process: There’s no need to create a new schedule for each pay period, as you can save templates. You also have flexible schedule views for daily, weekly, and monthly schedules.
- Paycor Interfaces and Reports: Provides interfaces to the software most commonly used by small businesses, including Gusto, QuickBooks, and Zendesk. Further, it offers more reports than When I Work in all pricing tiers.
- Paycor Customer Support: Has a 24-hour customer support center that lets you send concerns and questions to its email address. You may also give them a call Monday through Friday. Telephone support is not available on the weekends.
7shifts: Best for Restaurants Scheduling Shift Workers
7shifts is best for restaurants or businesses within food service, as it can manage shift schedules with iOS and Android apps for both employees and managers to use for schedule confirmations and messaging. It includes alerts and notifications as well as automated scheduling, time and attendance tracking, tips, and leave management features. It also includes a virtual time clock.
Designed for restaurants and food industry businesses like food trucks and cafes
Lacks features that may be needed in a service business, such as group or resource scheduling tools
Strong scheduling and available employee tracking
Manually input/upload timesheets to payroll provider
Has a mobile app
Can be challenging to get set up and use to in the beginning
7shifts ranges in price from free (which offers schedule and time clock management for one location) up to $76.99 per month, per location. It’s priced similar to Homebase except that Homebase’s plans have no employee limits. Depending on how many employees you have, and which plan you choose, 7shifts may work out to be less expensive than paid plans of other scheduling software options that charge per employee each month.
7shifts Pricing & Features Table
Price per Location
Basic + compliance
Advanced + Compliance, Punch audits and more
POS sales & labor
7shifts offers all of the following in all its plans, including the comp plan, which is free: customer support, mobile apps, time clock staff scheduling and notifications, time off requests, staff availability, and reporting. Paid plans add payroll software integrations, advanced reporting, and cool features like weather and department sales forecasting.
- 7Shifts Ease of Use: Navigation is basic with spreadsheet features like drop-down menus and notes. Users can create and view your schedule by day, week, month, person, or department.
- 7Shifts Scheduling Process: One of the useful restaurant features is that you can schedule a worker to come in at a certain time, with the caveat to be sent home when business slows down.
- 7Shifts Interfaces and Reports: Offers an accounting interface to QuickBooks but doesn’t otherwise have much for payroll interfaces. 7Shifts also offers POS integrations for restaurant software like Toast.
- 7Shifts Customer Support: Although live support is offered, setting appointments for customer service calls is offered through the website.
Deputy: Best for Businesses Scheduling Across Multiple Locations
We recommend Deputy for businesses with multiple locations (including international work locations) that don’t mind paying a bit extra for added features—like shared-employees who work at more than a single location or work site. Deputy is convenient because you can find employees quickly to fill open shifts and even make shifts available for employees to choose from. It’s ideal for businesses with hourly and shift workers who are shared across multiple work sites. Deputy supports so many industries we couldn’t list them all: retail, restaurants, hotels and resorts, healthcare, law enforcement, services, tech companies, and nonprofits.
Provides facility scheduling and task management
Differences in international terminology, may offer confusion
Set up to support businesses operating across multiple geographies and time zones
Doesn’t have a free version
Limited control over notifications
Pricing for Deputy is $2.50 per employee, per month, with all the basic scheduling features. However, Deputy’s $2.50 per employee Scheduling tier doesn’t include a time clock. You have to upgrade to the $4.50 per employee Premium tier to get time-tracking features. The Premium plan is the one you’d need if you want time and attendance features that integrate with your payroll software.
Deputy Pricing Tiers
Number of Employees
Number of Locations
Time and Attendance
We recommend the Premium tier for small businesses because it has everything you will need, including a robust set of standard reports as compared to other scheduling software like When I Work that provide few and only basic options. If you want to upgrade to the Enterprise tier so that you can customize your software platform and its reporting abilities or have a dedicated support team, you’ll need to contact Deputy to get a quote.
In addition to the standard features available in all the employee scheduling software programs we reviewed such as shift-scheduling, Deputy employee scheduling software is unique as it allows you use facial recognition to ensure security, schedules based on the weather, and shares data with many payroll, accounting, and HR applications. However, none of the interfaces come free as they do with Homebase.
- Deputy Ease of Use: The drag-and-drop interface is easy to add shifts on the fly without creating a new schedule. Provides a dashboard and workflow to simplify approvals and scheduling change requests.
- Deputy Scheduling Process: Broadcasts messages to notify employees of open shifts and get employee replies. You can set up security to use facial recognition if you want to be sure your scheduling and time clock are only being used by the intended employees.
- Deputy Interfaces and Reports: Reports come into play when you upgrade to the Premium tier. Deputy supports a huge variety of industries and provides HR integration, which most scheduling-only software doesn’t.
- Deputy Customer Support: Enterprise version offers 24/7 support via phone or online chat with a dedicated resource.
Shiftboard: Best Employee Scheduling Software for Regulated Industries
We found Shiftboard to be best for more regulated or union environments and for jobs requiring employees to be licensed and certified. Although Shiftboard is priced on the higher end, it supports complex scheduling environments and includes data for all US federal labor laws. It can help you build schedules that fit within regulated union or government contracts. Shiftboard supports all industries, including those with hourly and shift workers.
Free scheduling tools and workstation and location tracking (GPS)
No free trial or service
All-in-one HR, benefits, and time and attendance tool
Complex during set-up phase, although thereafter easy to use
Caters to a wide range of industries
Pricing for Shiftboard ranges from $3 to $7 a month, per employee, and it offers discounts for nonprofits. However, what’s not shown are the setup and training fees, which require a quote. Therefore, your actual start up-price may be higher than the monthly per-employee prices shown and also higher than most of the other best employee scheduling software options reviewed thus far.
Shiftboard Pricing Table
Number of Employees
Number of Locations
Time and Attendance
In addition to the standard scheduling features common to all the programs we reviewed, using Shiftboard employee scheduling software, you can input rules that let you control who can work which jobs based on their credentials. You can also use the software to manage event staff and volunteers and train them if you upgrade to Enterprise. Similar to Homebase and When I Work, it includes job posting options with an applicant tracking tool. However, unlike Homebase and When I Work, the recruiting tools are not free.
- Shiftboard Ease of Use: Allows your employees to use interactive voice response (IVR) or quick response (QR) codes to sign in, and the text function helps your employees respond to fill open jobs.
- Shiftboard Scheduling Process: Users can list required employee credentials such as an electrician license or nail tech certification, to ensure qualified scheduling (if you upgrade to the Enterprise package, you’ll also get compliance alerts).
- Shiftboard Interfaces and Reports: With the Enterprise package, it integrates with multiple larger payroll software systems like ADP, QuickBooks, and Paychex.
- Shiftboard Customer Support: Shiftboard provides support via phone, email, web, and live online chat Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time.
TSheets: Best Employee Scheduling Software for Service Businesses
TSheets is best for service industries where time needs to be tracked against pre-scheduled remote jobs like service contractors and home healthcare workers because it lets you see where employees are throughout the workday. It’s costlier than the others, but provides web, mobile, and kiosk applications and allows you to add details like directions to the job or garage door codes to get in.
We added TSheets to our list because even though it’s a bit more expensive for small businesses, it receives top ratings and awards from multiple review sites. It also has GPS tracking and it offers payroll processing through QuickBooks Payroll.
Provides a GPS time tracker, time clock, and mobile app
Pricing is double the cost of the other employee scheduling software packages we reviewed
Employees can upload photos from job sites
Doesn’t offer any kind of in-person training
Produces payroll-ready time sheets that you can import into your payroll software easily.
Incapable of differentiating customers within the system
TSheets costs $8 per user, per month, plus a $20 base fee per month if you have between two and 99 employees. But to get signed time sheet signatures and messaging it’s $2 extra per employee, per month—costing $10 per employee, per month, in total. You can save 20% with an annual subscription and TSheets sometimes runs specials on its website.
In addition to the standard employee scheduling software features included in all the programs we reviewed, TSheets lets you update schedules and add appointments from your smartphone. Using TSheets, you cannot only schedule service appointments with notes but can also track your employees’ locations with GPS throughout the day.
- TSheets Ease of Use: The drag-and-drop scheduling tool allows you to view your schedules by day, week, or month. Once you publish your schedule, you can send push notifications to your employees.
- TSheets Scheduling Process: Shift changes are easy, and you can add an urgent appointment to the schedule on the fly notifying your staff immediately via email or text.
- TSheets Interfaces and Reports: Provides multiple other integrations like customer relationship management (CRM), talent management, and accounting and financial reporting software that most other packages do not. Intuit recently acquired TSheets, so if you use QuickBooks, data transfers from TSheets require only one-click.
- TSheets Customer Support: Live support via chat or phone from TSheets Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mountain time. It also provides weekend support from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain time Saturday and Sunday.
Alternative Employee Scheduling Software Options
Beyond our top picks, there remains a wide range of employee scheduling tools for small to medium-sized businesses, freelancers, specific industries, and self-employed workers that we include below as alternatives depending on your specific industry or need. This range covers everything from hospitality to managing call centers.
Tiny firms (five or fewer employees) for free HR, online forms and scheduling
Fast-growing companies that want integrated time tracking, HR, payroll and benefits
Professional services that want customizable reports and third-party software interfaces
Office users and call centers that need start-and-stop timers compatible with Windows
Tech firms preferring a self-hosted solution featuring employee data, vacation tracking, and schedules
Foodservice, retail, and hospitality businesses that want a workforce management suite
Nonprofits needing a calendar service with intranet calendars and website plugins
Restaurant managers wanting scheduling and communication tools tailored to their industry
Medium-sized enterprises seeking scheduling as part of a workforce management package
Nontraditional entities that require a customizable solution
Hospitality industries that need HR support and daily logs
Hands-off managers who want automated scheduling, time tracking, and more
Inconsistent scheduling is a common challenge for small businesses today, regardless of industry. This inconsistency can cost your business in a number of ways, through lost business opportunities, poor staffing oversights and inconsistently tracked costs. Using scheduling software with messaging tools and automated reminders saves time and gives your employees advanced notice of their work-shifts. Organizing and engaging your employees with clear, efficient scheduling can add up to real savings for your small business over the long term.