6 Best Employee Scheduling Software for Small Businesses in 2023
The best employee scheduling software is easy to use and affordable, with compliance solutions and an auto-scheduler to help automate the process. In addition to offering an intuitive schedule builder, it should have mobile apps to help managers save time while providing employees with self-service tools for requesting schedule swaps and viewing work shifts online.
We evaluated 10 providers to find the best employee scheduling software for small businesses and narrowed it down to our top six.
- Homebase: Best (overall) for small retail businesses and restaurants that need free employee shift scheduling
- SocialSchedules: Best for hospitality businesses that are strict with labor law compliance
- Connecteam: Best for mobile scheduling
- 7shifts: Best for larger restaurant operations managing complex employee work shifts
- Deputy: Best for multilocation companies that share employees across job sites
- When I Work: Best scheduling tool for startups with dispersed employees
Best Employee Scheduling Software Compared
Free Trial Period
Built-in Time and Attendance Product
Live Phone Support
Yes, for one location and up to 20 employees
$24.95–$99.95 per location*
Yes, for one department/location and up to 10 employees
$15.99–$39.99 per location*
Yes, for up to 10 users
$35–$119 for the first 30 users + 6 cents and up for each additional user *
Yes, for one location and up to 30 employees
$34.99–$150 per location*
Yes, for US-based users (up to 100 shifts per month and approve up to 100 timesheets per month)
$3.50–$4.90 per user**
$2.50–$8 per user
*Get discounts on yearly billing.
**Deputy requires a minimum monthly spend of $25 per invoice on its paid plans.
Note that all four providers in this guide have the following:
- Free plan
- Shift swapping
- Customizable reporting
- Can message supervisors and coworkers
Give us your number of employees and business locations to compare monthly and annual fees for these providers.
If you’re still not prepared to use software for scheduling, try our free downloadable employee schedule templates.
Homebase: Best Overall Employee Scheduling Software
- Free employee scheduling and time clock
- Caters to an unlimited number of employees
- Responsive customer support
- Free version supports only one location and administrator
- Has a bit of a learning curve
- Occasional integration issues and mobile app glitches reported by users
We recommend Homebase for:
- Businesses with one physical location employing hourly workers
- US-based small businesses
- Companies with field employees needing time-keeping and HR tools
Scoring 4.40 out of 5, Homebase’s schedule builder with automated scheduling tools can help you easily create work shifts for up to 20 employees. Additionally, it’s the only provider on our list that offers live phone support. Note that it has a bit of a learning curve (mainly because of its many features), and its mobile apps (iOS and Android) can sometimes be glitchy. However, users find the schedule builder easy to navigate. Several others even commended its responsive support team.
Aside from employee scheduling, Homebase has solid time tracking functionalities, with an offline mode that captures clock-ins/outs even when the Wi-Fi connection is down. It even topped our list of best time and attendance software for small businesses.
- Basic plan: Free, which covers businesses with one location and unlimited employees. It includes tools for creating, managing, and publishing staff schedules online, with automated time sheets, PTO requests, shift swaps, job postings, applicant tracking, onboarding, reports, and time clock apps for computers.
- Essentials tier: $24.95 per location monthly ($20 monthly on the annual plan). It has all of the Basic plans’ features, plus geofencing, auto-scheduling, late employee alerts, manager approvals, and automated employee reminders.
- Plus option: $59.95 per location monthly ($48 monthly on the annual plan) and has additional tools for managing PTO policies and balances, budgets and labor cost forecasts, and advance labor cost.
- All-in-One package: $99.95 per location monthly ($80 monthly on the annual plan). It has premium features, like API access, online onboarding, employee documents and an electronic signature tool, and expert advice from HR professionals.
- Add-on services
- Payroll ($39 per month, plus $6 per employee)
- Onboarding and Document Storage ($49 per month)
- HR Pro advisors and resources ($99 per month)
- Promote job postings on ZipRecruiter and Craigslist (starts at $79 per post).
- Unlimited scheduling: Unlike the other software in this list, Homebase doesn’t charge per employee or have schedule and staff limits. You can create as many work shifts as you want for as many employees as you have. Further, if you grow your workforce, you don’t need to worry about paying extra for additional user seats—provided your employees all work in the same business location.
- Feature-rich free tier: Homebase ranked the highest in this guide and our free employee scheduling software guide due to its Basic plan that comes with a comprehensive set of free-to-use online tools. Aside from time tracking and scheduling, it includes hiring, job posting, onboarding, and team messaging solutions. Note that the other software in this list doesn’t have hiring and onboarding tools.
- Robust labor and schedule reporting: In addition to its drag-and-drop online scheduler builder, shift swaps requests, auto-scheduler tool, automated alerts, and mobile apps, Homebase has a wide range of customizable reports that can help you gain insight into work shifts, labor expenses and percentages, attendance-related performance, and sales (if synced with a POS). This is unlike Deputy, which offers robust labor cost reporting tools but only as part of its highest tier.
- Compliance tools: With Homebase, you automatically get the standard breaks and overtime settings for the state where your business operates. The software also captures and stores schedule edit histories, including previously run timesheets and reports, for either 90 days or four years (Deputy and 7shifts don’t offer long-term cloud storage for these). This makes complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and recordkeeping requirements easy.
SocialSchedules: Best for Hospitality Businesses Requiring Strict Labor Law Compliance
- User-friendly with a simple and visually appealing interface
- Robust compliance tools
- Its free tier includes access to restaurant-specific candidate search tools
- The free plan covers only 10 scheduled workers and one department in one location
- Overtime reports included in paid plans; multi location scheduling and dedicated customer support available only in highest option
- Mobile app is glitchy; desktop and mobile apps don’t always sync properly
We recommend SocialSchedules for:
- Restaurants and hospitality businesses
- Small businesses with single locations
- Highly regulated industries and locations
SocialSchedules (formerly OpenSimSim) is an employee scheduling software with tools designed to reduce compliance risks for hospitality-based businesses with multiple departments and locations. Scoring 4.21 out of 5 stars, this software allows you to create compliance rules that will guide your scheduling options and help you avoid penalties. It even sends notifications and mobile alerts for overtime and breaks that don’t comply with state and local labor laws.
Like Homebase, SocialSchedules’ free tier includes employee scheduling and allows you to post open shifts and get time off and shift replacement requests via its mobile app (iOS and Android). While it can handle multi-location and unlimited employee scheduling, including overtime reporting, you must subscribe to its paid plans to access these functionalities.
SocialSchedules also doesn’t have phone support—you only get a dedicated support contact if you purchase its highest tier. It is also the only provider on our list that doesn’t offer a free trial with its paid plans.
- Basic plan: Free for up to 10 employees working in the same department and one business location. This tier includes basic scheduling and labor law compliance tools, PTO requests, shift availability, digital timecards, in-app messaging, and a time clock kiosk (through its iOS and Android apps for tablets).
- Starter tier: $15.99 per location monthly with unlimited employees who work in two departments in the same location ($12.99 monthly on the annual plan). It includes the Basic plan’s tools, shift confirmations, daily and weekly overtime compliance settings, overtime reports, and the capabilities to view candidate profiles and block workdays from PTO requests.
- Premium option: $39.99 per location monthly ($33.99 monthly on the annual plan). It includes POS integrations, auto-break allocations, advanced reporting, and mobile time clock apps with GPS functionality.
- Enterprise plan: Custom-priced with unlimited employees, departments, and locations. It includes all of Premium’s features, plus dedicated support, API access, custom reports, and up to three free recruiting credits.
- Add-ons: $49.99 for additional recruiting credits. Note that you must subscribe to a paid plan to purchase this add-on.
- Smart shift management: Unlike the other software in this list, SocialSchedules lets your employees drop shifts (along with requesting shift swaps) if needed. However, your managers can lock important workdays to prevent schedules from being swapped and dropped.
- Strong labor laws compliance: SocialSchedules has more robust compliance features than most of the software in this list. It automatically allocates paid/unpaid breaks based on actual worked hours, applies penalties for missed meal breaks, and stops the send-outs of schedules with compliance breaches. It also provides cloud storage for edit histories and reports for up to seven years (compared to four years for Homebase). You can even add certification-related scheduling and time-tracking rules, enabling you to enforce work shifts that require employees with specific certifications.
- Multiple employee availability sets: SocialSchedules allows your employees to create multiple availability sets that show when they are available and unavailable to work. Each set contains start and end dates and can be repeated weekly or biweekly.
- Certification management: SocialSchedules is the only scheduling solution on our list that offers a certification management module. While available only in its higher tiers, this helps you track the training sessions employees need to attend and the expiration dates of certification programs (if applicable).
- Restaurant-specific recruitment network: Unlike Homebase, which lets you post open jobs to partner job sites, SocialSchedules has its own talent pool that consists primarily of restaurant staff. It uses AI to help you find and hire employees whose skills and availability match your staffing requirements.
Connecteam: Best for Mobile Scheduling
- Very easy to use
- Certification and training tracking
- No auto scheduling or forecasting
- Limited reports
- Live support via email only
We recommend Connecteam for:
- Stores that want a strong employee communications and employee management tool
- Companies with high turnover rates
- Retail stores
- Businesses with large workforces
Connecteam is highly recommended for teams with on-the-go managers that rely heavily on their mobile devices to manage their workforce. With the app, you can create, edit, and publish schedules straight from your mobile phone. It didn’t score higher in this list because it has few user reviews, lacks auto-scheduling, offers no live phone support, and has no offline option. Overall, it earned a 4.14 out of 5.
- Free: You can use Connecteam’s free plan for up to 10 users. With it, you get its time tracking solution, unlimited custom jobs, projects, or customers, absence management, exportable timesheet, GPS geolocation stamps, and payroll integration.
- Basic: $35 monthly for the first 30 users and $0.6 monthly for each additional user. It has additional tools like claiming open shifts, adding images to a form, and a quick view of past-due tasks.
- Advanced: $59 monthly for the first 30 users and $1.8 monthly per additional user. You get everything in Basic, plus other more advanced features, including geofencing for the time clock, recurring shifts, schedule templates, auto clock out, and lock days in time sheets.
- Expert: $119 per month for the first 30 users and $3.60 per user monthly in excess. In this most advanced plan, users can view and edit their personal profiles. You also get multi-branch location management, live GPS tracking, process automation, new device login alter, and conflicts and custom limitations, all on top of the Advanced plan’s features.
Note: You can get an 18% discount when you opt for annual billing.
- Drag-and-drop scheduling: Similar to most of the providers in this list, Connecteam lets you create and edit shifts in a few clicks. You can add shifts to a template or even load one from a file. You can set daily or weekly hours limits to prevent overscheduling employees.
- On-site and mobile time tracking: You can track employee hours in two ways with Connecteam. One is by setting up an onsite kiosk, which requires employees to enter their PIN. Employees may also clock-in and out using the mobile app, which also comes with geofencing and auto clock-out features.
- Seamless communication: You can set push notifications to help remind your team about their coming shift or to inform them when they’re about to reach their daily work hour limit. Plus, you can add notes, locations, tasks, or files to members assigned to tasks. If you get its Expert plan, you can even use automated follow-up features, making it more convenient to provide and receive feedback on tasks.
7shifts: Best for Larger Restaurant Operations With Complex Staff Schedules
- Intuitive interface
- Has a machine learning auto-scheduler tool
- Offers robust reports and POS integration options
- The free plan covers scheduling for only 10 employees and one location; doesn’t include auto-scheduling, POS integrations, and customer support
- Lacks phone support; has live chat and email support but available only in paid plans
- Occasional mobile app glitches and integration issues reported by users
We recommend 7shifts for:
- Large restaurants and restaurants with franchises.
- Retail, amusement parks, and other businesses that hire minors.
- Businesses that require close supervision and paper trails.
7shifts is a cloud-based scheduling software created specifically for restaurants. Scoring 4.07 out of 5 stars, we recommend it for restaurants with large operations in multiple locations that have complex scheduling needs. Aside from its easy-to-use drag-and-drop schedule builder and restaurant-friendly time tracking tools, 7shifts offers robust reporting that allows you to see how your business locations perform in terms of sales, labor costs, and employee management.
However, it doesn’t offer phone support, and even if you upgrade to a paid tier, you only get email and live chat support. While it has an auto-scheduler, like Homebase, and can integrate with a wide range of payroll and POS systems, you have to subscribe to its higher tiers in order to access these functionalities.
- Comp plan: Free for one business location with up to 30 employees. It includes basic scheduling and time tracking tools, PTO requests, staff availability, time clock and time sheets, hiring, applicant tracking, team chat, announcements, employee management tracking, and POS integration.
- Entrée option: $34.99 per location monthly for up to 30 employees ($29.99/month on the annual plan). It includes all of Comp’s features plus schedule templates, unlimited scheduling, labor budgeting, sales forecasting, PTO, break, overtime tracking, sales and labor reporting, and read receipts.
- The Works package: $76.99 per location monthly for unlimited employees ($69.99/month for the annual plan). It has all of Entrée’s features plus scheduling with stations, advanced budgeting, and weather, labor alerts including overtime, breaks, and clock-ins, manager logbook, payroll integration, state-based compliance tools, and advance reporting.
- Gourmet plan: $150 per location monthly ($135/month for the annual plan). It includes unlimited employees, machine learning auto-scheduler, operations overview, and task management.
- Add-on services:
- Task Management: Detailed task lists included in employee shifts ($12.99 per location monthly)
- Operations Overview: Tracking of multiple restaurants’ sales, labor, and employee engagement performances ($6.99 per location monthly)
- Manager Log Book ($14.99 monthly per location): help managers monitor shifts using a digital log book.
- Tip Pooling: create, calculate, and track tip pools for $24.99 monthly per location
- Smart employee scheduling: Included in 7shifts’s Gourmet tier, its machine-learning employee scheduling tool automatically creates work shifts based on your restaurant’s workforce demands, labor cost and sales forecasts, and overtime compliance requirements, including your employees’ skills, schedule availability, and approved PTO. Only Deputy offers a comparable auto-scheduling feature.
- Restaurant-friendly tools: In addition to tip reporting, 7shifts has real-time labor reports and restaurant performance dashboards that provide a birds-eye view of your entire business operations (via the Enterprise Dashboard), including how all the restaurants are performing and which locations may need extra attention (through the Location Overview). Other software in this list either don’t have this type of reporting, or the restaurant-specific reports aren’t as extensive.
- Efficient task management: While this feature is a paid add-on, it can help improve employee productivity since this lets you add work tasks that your staff needs to do during a shift. You can create recurring and one-time tasks, set completion timelines, schedule when these will appear for applicable employees, and track who completed the tasks. Homebase and SocialSchedules only let you add reminders to shifts, while the rest of the software in this article provides limited task management controls.
- Robust POS integrations: Compared to Homebase and SocialSchedules (which have up to 10 partner POS systems), 7shifts integrates with more than 20 POS solutions, like Aloha, Micros, Dinerware, Square POS, Revel, POSitouch, Squirrel Systems, and Heartland Restaurant POS.
- Compliance tools: Along with audit logs, automated alerts, break and overtime settings, and early clock-in prevention, 7shifts can also help you to avoid assigning “clopen” shifts (Homebase and SocialSchedules don’t have this feature). This ensures that employees get ample rest between schedules instead of working a closing shift and then an opening shift immediately the following day.
Deputy: Best for Multilocation Businesses That Schedule Staff Across Work Sites
- Efficient scheduling tools
- Affordable plans with separate packages for time tracking and employee scheduling
- Offers unlimited 24/7 customer support
- Free plan only for US users; monthly plans have a minimum spend requirement
- Issues on third-party integrations
- Occasional mobile app glitches reported by users
We recommend Deputy for:
- Restaurants and retailers.
- Businesses with strong labor regulations.
- Businesses with hourly, rotating staff.
- International businesses.
Deputy is a great scheduling option for businesses with shared hourly and shift workers across multiple locations. Scoring 3.98 out of 5 stars, you can either manually create shifts that assign employees to different work sites and departments or use its AI-powered scheduler to build demand-based and labor-optimized work shifts. Further, if your employees request swap shifts online, the system automatically transfers their department and worksite data after the requests have been approved.
While it has efficient scheduling tools that are easy to learn and use, it doesn’t offer a comprehensive free tier (unlike most of the software in this list), and its paid plans require a minimum monthly spend of $25 per invoice. You may also have to deal with the occasional mobile app glitches (iOS and Android), login errors, and integration issues. However, many users still find its system convenient to use with plans that are reasonably priced.
- Starter plan: Free only for users in the US; plan is limited to publishing up to 100 shifts per month, and approving up to 100 timesheets per month
- Standalone packages:
- Scheduling plan – $3.50 per employee monthly. Includes access to an online schedule builder with auto-scheduling and shift swapping functionalities.
- Time and Attendance – $3.50 per employee monthly. Includes: time sheets, payroll integrations, and time clock apps (for iOS and Android).
*Both come with PTO management, meal and rest break planning, POS integrations, unlimited 24/7 support, and a news feed. Does not include reporting tools.
- Premium: $4.90 per employee monthly; includes both Scheduling and Time and Attendance plans
- Enterprise: Custom-priced
- Flexi Weekly: $2.50 per employee weekly; includes all Premium’s features and is designed for businesses that change employees weekly
Note: Scheduling, Time and Attendance, and Premium tiers require a minimum monthly spend of $25 per invoice.
- Affordable employee scheduling: For businesses that only need scheduling tools, Deputy offers an affordable solution for creating, managing, and sharing employee work shifts through its mobile apps. You can simply drag-and-drop shifts or use its AI-powered scheduler to build demand-based work shifts with a single click.
- Labor compliance tools: Deputy has smart wage and hour compliance tools (although not as robust as those of SocialSchedules) designed to help keep you compliant with labor laws and protect your business from potential risks. Its features include meal and rest breaks settings, fair workweek rules, “clopen” schedule notifications, and compliance alerts.
- Flexible time tracking: In addition to scheduling solutions, you get time clock apps that allow you to track employee attendance and manage your workforce from any mobile device, including the Apple Watch. Its apps for tablets even support touchless clock-ins, enabling your employees to start and end their shifts through facial recognition and voice commands. The other software in this list doesn’t support voice command clock-ins/outs and time tracking through the Apple Watch.
When I Work: Best for Startups With Dispersed Employees
- Easy to set up; has an intuitive interface
- Affordably priced; offers a standalone scheduling and messaging plan
- GPS location-based scheduling
- Limited report customizability; lacks live phone support
- Overtime alerts, labor reports, POS/payroll integrations, and mobile clock-ins with GPS enforcement are included in the paid Time and Attendance add-on
- Software lags from time to time
We recommend When I Work for:
- Companies with hourly or shift workers looking for an affordable and comprehensive staff management solution.
- Growing businesses that need an easy-to-use tool.
- Employers that hire hourly employees across different locations.
When I Work is a solid employee scheduling solution for small startup companies with employees at various sites because it offers shift planning and scheduling tools that can be accessed on multiple devices—desktops, laptops, and mobile iOS and Android smartphones—at a low cost. Plus, you can add GPS details to your employees’ shifts ensuring that they report to where they’re expected to.
It earned 3.72 out of 5 stars and didn’t rank higher on our list primarily because it doesn’t have live phone support (support available through tickets and live chat only), report customizability (this feature is in Beta mode as of this writing), and a free plan. You also have to pay extra for some tools (like labor reports and overtime alerts) that are either free to use or are included in the lowest tiers of most of the software in this list.
- Standard: At $2.50 per user, it’s best for businesses looking for standard scheduling. It only has scheduling and messaging tools, but if you want to add time and attendance and on-demand pay features to the plan, you have to pay an additional monthly fee of $2.50 per employee.
- Advanced: This option starts at $6 per employee and comes with advanced scheduling options. If you want to get its time and attendance tool, you can add $2 per user and also get on-demand pay.
- Simple-to-use scheduling tools: Similar to Deputy, When I Work offers a standalone scheduling tool that’s intuitive and easy to use. With just a few simple clicks, you can create shifts, share work schedules with your team, track actual work hours, and message employees. However, unlike most of the software in this list, you have to pay extra if you want to access its time-tracking functionalities.
- GPS-based employee scheduling: When I Work lets you add GPS details of job sites to shifts so employees know where they should report for work (Homebase doesn’t have this). Then, you can use its mobile time clock apps to monitor whether or not your staff with job site assignments clock in at the location you specified.
- Smart reporting: Unlike Deputy’s standalone scheduling solution, When I Work has a few automated reports that provide insight into your business and workforce. These include real-time labor distribution reports that allow managers to see how their planned labor budget compares to actual labor costs (including overtime).
How We Chose the Top Employee Scheduling Software
We checked and compared several employee scheduling solutions that offer reasonably priced plans—some even have free tiers (we gave more consideration to these). We also looked for essential staff scheduling features, such as auto-scheduling, labor forecasting, overtime and break management, reporting, ease of use, and customer support.
To view our full evaluation criteria for the best employee scheduling software, click through the tabs in the box below.
30% of Overall Score
We looked into the free options that most of the software in our list offered. Aside from transparent pricing, preference was given to providers who charge $5 or less per user monthly and allow you to purchase the scheduling system separately from the time and attendance tool. Homebase and SocialSchedules received high scores here, given their transparent pricing, free tiers, and reasonably priced plans. Deputy was also rated favorably for pricing since you can purchase its scheduling solution as a standalone product for a very low price.
25% of Overall Score
We gave high marks to software that supports auto-scheduling, labor forecasting, multi-location scheduling, shift swapping, and overtime, break, and paid time off (PTO) planning. Extra points were also given to those with mobile apps and a self-service portal to check schedules, clock in/out, and communicate with the team. Most of the software in this list received perfect scores except for 7shifts and SocialSchedules, mainly because these providers’ multilocation scheduling feature is available only in higher tiers.
25% of Overall Score
Having an employee scheduling platform that’s intuitive, easy to learn, and simple to set up is a must. We also considered solutions that offer live phone support, new user training, and video tutorials. While most of the software in this list is generally user-friendly with intuitive controls, what pulled the scores down for providers like Deputy and 7Shifts include the lack of live phone support and having a Time and Attendance module that costs extra (others offer this for free).
10% of Overall Score
Aside from having access to standard and pre-built reports, users should be able to customize reports. All providers on our list received a perfect score in this category.
10% of Overall Score
We considered user reviews, including those of our competitors based on a 5-star scale; any option with an average of 4+ stars is ideal. Also, any software with 1,000+ reviews on any third-party site is preferred. All of the software we ranked scored well under popularity.
Consistent scheduling can help small businesses save time and money. You’ll need to consider your budget so that you know what you can afford, the structure of your business (is everyone working in the office or out in the field?), if you need to integrate it with other software, and how flexible you want scheduling to be.
We found that Homebase offers all of the features the average small business owner would need when creating their employees’ schedules. Compared to other providers, it’s easy to use, affordable, and robust—and it has a time clock product and other functionalities that you can add on later. And, it is free to use for small businesses of up to 20 employees with one physical location.