Employee scheduling software is an online tool that lets you build calendar-like schedules, automate timekeeping, and replace manual timesheets and old fashioned time clocks. Most employee scheduling software has mobile apps, giving you and your employees access to schedules and time tracking tools on the go.
We reviewed employee scheduling software that covers the range of options for small businesses in terms of price, features, ease of use, mobile access by employees, integrations and positive customer reviews. Below are the ones we recommend for small businesses.
Best Employee Scheduling Software Summary Table
|Homebase||Best for brick and mortar businesses with one location.|
|When I Work||Best free scheduling software (free for up to 75 employees), but time and attendance tracking isn’t included in the free version.|
|Deputy||Best for multi-location businesses with hourly and shift-workers.|
|TSheets||Best for tracking employees against pre-scheduled jobs, like home repairs or medical services.|
|Shiftboard||Best for regulated/union environments and for jobs requiring employees to be licensed/certified.|
How We Evaluated Employee Scheduling Software
For this review, we looked exclusively at all-in-one employee scheduling software that has timesheet and time clock tools as part of an affordable scheduling package.
All of the employee scheduling software options we reviewed below have plans that include these 10 features for small businesses:
- Variety of scheduling options (i.e. daily/weekly/monthly, by employee, by position, etc.)
- Mobile app so employee schedules and tools are accessible via smartphone or tablet
- Employee schedule templates and automated scheduling to save you time
- Time clock features so employees can clock-in/-out
- Employee access to request time-off, trade shifts, fill open shifts and update time
- Vacation and leave tracking, such is when someone is on PTO, so you don’t schedule someone who’s unavailable
- Group scheduling, which is important if your employees work as a team on jobs
- Customizable email and text alerts (shift start times, upcoming shifts, reminders, etc.)
- In-app messaging system to communicate with employees any topic
- Employee data integrations with payroll software and point of sale (POS) software
Let’s take a closer look at our top employee scheduling software providers.
1. Best Employee Scheduling Software for Businesses with One Physical Location: Homebase
Homebase is our pick for small businesses with physical locations, like restaurants and retail stores, because they price based on location, unlike other vendors which charge based on the number of employees. The per location charge lets you save money even if you employ multiple people at one location. Homebase’s free plan provides everything a brick and mortar business would need, including managing shift workers, shift swapping, and exporting to payroll. Other vendors charge for those features. And they have free phone, chat and email support.
Homebase also has cool features like a manager log, that allows managers to share notes across shifts. In addition, Homebase recognizes your scheduling preferences and even suggests employees for open shifts as you build a schedule. You can drag and resize shifts to make them longer or shorter, much like you change appointment times in Google Calendar, even after the schedule is created. And Homebase prevents you from scheduling employees who are not qualified for the appointment, or have a scheduling conflict — like being on vacation, or scheduled at another site.
Homebase ranges in price from free to $30 per site. They charge by physical worksite location, not by employee, so it’s great if you have only one or two locations because your price won’t fluctuate as your business grows and you add staff. If you want to sign up for the free Basic plan, you won’t even need to provide a credit card or share your complete business information.
Each of the tiers — Basic, Essential and Plus — provides additional features as shown in the chart below. But even if you choose to pay for all the features of the Plus plan, assuming you have more than 10 employees, you’d still pay less than the other employee scheduling software providers we reviewed. Homebase also has an Enterprise package that includes forecasting, API plugins and other features, but you’ll have to call them for a pricing quote on that tier.
|# of Employees|
|# of Locations|
|Time & Attendance|
What You Can Do in Homebase
In addition to the 10 features available in all the programs we reviewed, Homebase employee scheduling software features let you:
- Set up your first employee and schedule in under 5 minutes
- Duplicate prior week’s schedule or use a template
- View employee availability and time off on a calendar, weeks in advance
- See labor costs and compare actual vs scheduled hours
- Send text reminders if you upgrade to Essential or Plus
- Integrate with POS systems like Lightspeed
- Integrate with QuickBooks, ADP Pay Expert, and banks like BofA and Wells Fargo
- Access US-based user support via phone, email and chat 9AM-9PM CST, M-F
- Attend training webinars and access online user guides
We liked the Homebase drag-and-drop interface. And it’s cool that Homebase only increased pricing by $.05 (rounding it up a nickel) since the last time we updated this article. In the meantime, they added features like a managers’ log, labor costing, and enhanced reporting, making their pricing and features the best overall.
If you’re in the retail business, integration with your POS can be a very useful feature. Lightspeed is a POS that includes excellent inventory management, and the integration with Homebase means that you can track both your stock and your employees’ hours in one place. Try Lightspeed free for 14 days—no credit card required.
What’s Missing from Homebase
Not much is missing from Homebase, except that you have to upgrade to the Plus package if you want the timesheet approvals, early clock-in prevention or labor costing features. However, if you have more than one physical location and few actual employees, you may be better off with a package that’s priced based on the number of employees, rather than locations. The only other drawback we noted is the limited hours of support for Homebase, and that on weekends, you can only get support by email. But considering how easy the software is to use, you probably won’t be needing very much support. Click here to sign up for free.
2. Best Free Employee Scheduling Software: When I Work
We recommend When I Work as the best free employee scheduling software. It’s free for up to 75 employees, but the free version doesn’t include time and attendance tracking. There are also some other limitations of the free version, such as how far you can schedule into the future. It does include a lot of other features however. For instance, its job sites feature is the best we tested, allowing you to set up remote work locations with GPS and include job instructions so employees can view their job sites on a map. You can even restrict employees from signing in to the job unless they are within a specific distance of the work location. So if you have lots of locations, When I Work may be even better than Homebase for your business.
When I Work also has a highly-intuitive mobile app that supports on-the-go businesses with employees at lots of job sites. For example, a retail business that sells from pop-up stores, fairs, weekend markets, or kiosks would do well with When I Work.
When I Work Pricing
When I Work pricing ranges from free to about $99 per month, based on the number of employees and the features you want. The price per employee goes down for each 10 additional employees you add. Time and attendance tracking, which is not available in the free version, can be added for an additional $1 per employee.
The chart below provides sample pricing for 30 and 100 employees, illustrating that if you have 100 employees, for example, you’d get all features for as low as $1/month per employee.
Clock and Attendance
|# of Employees|
|# of Locations|
|Time & Attendance|
What You Can Do in When I Work
- Integrate with POS vendors like Square and VendPOS
- Integrate with QuickBooks, ADP and Gusto, our recommended payroll provider
- Get email or chat support 7 days a week: M-F, 7AM-7:30PM CST, and S/S 9AM-6PM
- View training videos online or schedule training in person
We liked that the mobile app for Apple and Android doesn’t require extensive training for your employees, and that When I Work provides free scheduling for up to 75 employees. We recommend the Premier plan with Time Clock and Attendance as best for those with multiple locations who want a top rated, easy to use app.
What’s Missing from When I Work
The first thing missing from When I Work is phone support – it’s live chat and email only and not available 24/7. When I Work is also not a good option for those with service workers who need to track time against scheduled appointments (there’s no appointment or calendar management). And the last drawback is reporting. When I Work does not have a specific tab for reporting, and their reporting tools are less intuitive than some of the others we tested.
3. Best Employee Scheduling Software for Hourly & Shift Workers: Deputy
We recommend Deputy because it’s great for businesses with hourly and shift workers. The drag and drop interface is easier to use than some of the competitors, allowing you to add shifts. Especially for businesses with multiple locations, it’s convenient because you can quickly find employees to fill open shifts, and even make shifts available for employees to choose. Deputy supports so many industries we couldn’t list them all: retail, restaurants, hotels/resorts, healthcare, law enforcement, services, tech companies and non-profits.
Deputy has cool features that none of the other employee scheduling software packages we reviewed have — like biometric facial recognition and predicting how scheduling might need to change due to the impact of weather on sales. Their scheduling has integrated job costing elements as you can see in the screen capture above, so you estimate your staffing costs based on the scheduling you choose.
Pricing for Deputy costs $2-$3 per employee for all the basic features. Deputy’s $2 per employee Starter tier provides basic scheduling only, and you have to upgrade to the $3 per employee Premium tier to get time-tracking features. They also offer a 30-day free trial that doesn’t require a credit card.
We recommend the Premium tier for small businesses because it has everything you would need, including a robust set of standard reports as compared to other scheduling software that provide few and only basic reports. If you want to upgrade to the Enterprise tier so that you can customize your software and reports (the options are endless), or have a dedicated support team, you’ll need to contact Deputy to get a quote.
|# of Employees|
|# of Locations|
|Time & Attendance|
What You Can Do in Deputy
- Broadcast messages, and get employee replies with their News Feed feature
- Integrate with tons of POS systems including Vend, Square and Kounta
- Integrate with payroll providers like ADP, Quickbooks, Paychex and Paylocity
- Use facial-recognition security
- Update scheduling needs based on how the weather may impact sales
- Share employee data with HR applications like Gusto, Xero, and BambooHR
- Get 24/7 Support via phone/chat with a dedicated resource if you buy Enterprise version
- Attend training via live and recorded 30-60 minute webinars
Deputy is competitively priced for all the features you get. What captured our attention the most were the robust job costing features that aren’t included in some of the competitors. They support a huge variety of industries and provide HR integration, which most others don’t. In addition, they have numerous POS and payroll integrations.
What’s Missing from Deputy
Deputy supports 70+ countries, so other than some differences in terminology, for instance, they refer to their system as ‘workforce management’, and unions as ‘labor’. They don’t have a free version, and their pricing is a bit higher than Homebase and When I Work which is why they didn’t end up at the top of the list. Other than that, we couldn’t find any functionality missing. If you upgrade to Enterprise, it’s all there.
4. Best Employee Scheduling Software for Pre-Scheduled Jobs: TSheets
TSheets is best for service industries where time needs to be tracked against pre-scheduled jobs, like home service contractors and home health care workers. It provides web, mobile and kiosk applications, and allows you to put detailed notes in, like directions to the job or garage door codes to get in. Many of the other packages don’t have that. (In full disclosure, this author’s spouse works for a home service company that uses TSheets, and it’s the first work-related mobile app he hasn’t found frustrating as he moves through 6-8 job appointments a day.)
We added TSheets to our list this year because even though it’s a bit more expensive for small businesses, it kept getting top ratings and awards from multiple review sites. We found that in addition to service jobs, TSheets is affordable for freelancers, consultants and sole proprietors who have just one employee and multiple customer accounts and locations.
TSheets offers three tiers of pricing. The Freelancer tier is $10 per month. Their other two tiers are based on number of employees and range from $5 to $6.25/month per employee. They also charge a setup fee based on the number of employees you have.
If you have fewer than 100 employees, your base setup fee is only $20 to get started. They also offer a 20% discount if you opt for an annual subscription. They offer a 14-day free trial as well.
$5.00/month per employee*
$6.25/month per employee*
|# of Employees|
|# of Locations|
|Time & Attendance|
*Save 20% with annual subscription.
What You Can Do in TSheets
- Send push notifications to remind your employees to clock out via their phone app
- Approve time from your smartphone
- Track your employees’ locations with GPS throughout the day
- Integrate with Square for POS, and Expensify for expense tracking
- Integrate with payroll software like Xero and QuickBooks
- Get support from M-F 8 AM to 5 PM by phone, email or online
TSheets provides multiple other integrations like CRM, talent management and accounting/financial reporting software which most other packages do not. In addition, their real-time standard reports give you everything from project job costing to an audit trail. And if you use QuickBooks, data transfers from TSheets require only one-click!
What’s Missing from TSheets
TSheets pricing is on the higher side for employee scheduling software as compared to the other packages we reviewed. And TSheets doesn’t offer any kind of in-person training, like some of the other vendors do. There is also no live representative available for customer support on the weekends. Otherwise, there’s really no functionality missing from TSheets.
5. Best Employee Scheduling Software for Jobs that Require Licensed Employees: Shiftboard
We found Shiftboard to be best for regulated/union environments and for jobs requiring employees to be licensed/certified. The reason is that Shiftboard supports complex scheduling environments. It includes data for all US labor laws, and schedules based on union contracts — letting you input employee credentials, like electrician licenses and nursing certifications to make sure you only schedule qualified staff for open shifts. Shiftboard supports all industries, including those with hourly and shift workers.
Pricing for Shiftboard ranges from $2 to $7 a month per employee, and they offer discounts for nonprofits. However, what’s not shown are the setup and training fees, which require a quote, so your actual start up-price may be higher than the monthly per employee prices shown in the chart.
Shiftboard also offers a free trial for up to 30 days that requires no credit card.
|# of Employees|
|# of Locations|
|Time and Attendance|
What You Can Do in Shiftboard
- Set up advanced rules, such as to block workers with expired credentials
- Text your employees to fill open jobs/shifts faster
- Let your employees use IVR phone responses or QR codes to sign in
- Get alerts if someone forgets to clock in
- Get phone, email, web and chat support M-F 6AM to AM – 5:00PM PST
- Access their robust user blog and online support that includes great screenshots
- Integrate with multiple systems such as ADP, Quickbooks and Paychex. For automated file exports you would need to upgrade to the Enterprise package
- Get compliance alerts if you upgrade to Enterprise
- Use applicant tracking is if you upgrade to Enterprise
- Manage event staff and volunteers, including training of staff/volunteers if you upgrade to Enterprise
If you want applicant tracking and event management tools without having to purchase separate software packages, those options are available in the Enterprise package for only about $3 more per employee.
What’s Missing from Shiftboard
Shiftboard has no 24/7 live support and received slightly lower user ratings on ease of use. You have to upgrade to Professional to get shift-trading features. Due to its ability to manage complex scheduling, there’s a bit of a learning curve. And it’s not the best value if you have fewer than 10 employees.
Other Employee Scheduling Software Options
There’s a wide range of employee scheduling options for small to medium sized businesses, freelancers, and self-employed. We wanted to share the full list of products that we considered. Go here to see all of our employee scheduling software reviews. Or if a time clock is what you prefer to scheduling, check out our 7 most recommended time clocks, including ones with bio-metric features to prevent time theft.
|Homebase||Designed to help businesses reduce schedule errors and no-shows|
|When I Work||An employee scheduling software and online time clock|
|Deputy||A solution for employee scheduling, time and attendance tracking, and team communication|
|Shiftboard||Features appointment management, automated scheduling, calendar management, an employee database, and|
|Humanity||Scheduling software for both small and large businesses with calendar management and payroll system integration.|
|Ximble||Labor management software with automated scheduling, calendar management, shift scheduling, and time tracking features.|
|7Shifts||Mobile and web-based employee scheduling tool designed for the restaurant industry.|
|WhenToWork||Cloud-based scheduling software that features customizable reports, integration with third-party programs, and more.|
|Schedule Anywhere||Available as a subscription-based service or as a self-hosted solution. Features automated scheduling, employee database, vacation/leave tracking, and more.|
|HotSchedules||Scheduling and workforce management software designed for restaurant, retail, and hospitality industries.|
|Calendarwiz||Online calendar service that can be used as a stand-alone calendar, an intranet calendar, a website calendar, or a website plug-in.|
|Schedulefly||Web-based employee scheduling and communication tool designed for the restaurant industry.|
|ScheduleSource||Features a web-based application called Teamwork that is used for scheduling, time and attendance tracking, forecasting, and more.|
|SubItUp||Customizable online employee scheduling solution that offers automated scheduling, employee database, shift scheduling, time tracking, and more.|
|TimeForge||Designed for the restaurant and hospitality industries.Includes time punches, human resources, and daily logs.|
|TrackSmart Scheduling||Features automated scheduling, shift scheduling, time tracking, and more.|
Bottom Line on Employee Scheduling Software
According to SnagaJob, 35% of 18-25 year olds left their last job due to inconsistent scheduling. Retaining employees with clear, efficient scheduling can add up to real savings for your small business.
When it comes to employee scheduling software, there are a variety of good options out there. Homebase offers the best solution at the best price and is a great fit for the majority of small businesses, especially brick-and-mortar retail stores and restaurants. However, if your small business juggles many different or varying worksites, When I Work’s flexibility and low per employee cost (it’s free for up 75 employees) could be a better solution. If you have specific job scheduling needs, one of the other three may be suit your business best.