Employee Scheduling Software Review
Why Buy Employee Scheduling Software?
Managing your own business is full of responsibilities, paperwork and annoyances, and creating your employees’ schedules can seem like just one more endless task to add to that pile. Employee scheduling sometimes becomes its own full-time position, since you have to manage employees requesting time off, switching shifts or needing to see their schedules. Employee scheduling software simplifies this job, making it easier for you to make schedules and share them with your employees.
We tested 14 different employee scheduling programs, using free demos to create schedules and test all the features each program has. We used the mobile apps to gauge how easy it is for managers to change schedules on the fly. In addition, we evaluated the software from the employee’s perspective to see how the programs interact with the people on the receiving end of the schedule.
Employee Scheduling Software: Our Top Picks & Other Recommendations
All of the employee schedulers in our review are great choices for creating schedules and sharing them with your employees. Overall, the best systems in our review are Homebase, ShiftPlanning and Deputy for their comprehensive feature sets and ease of use for both administrators and employees. However, the software that’s best for you will depend on what you’re looking for and the needs of your company and employees. Here are our recommendations for employee scheduling software.
Best Scheduling Software for Small Businesses
Homebase offers all of the features we looked for in employee scheduling software, including a time clock, a mobile app, integration with big names in the industry like ADP and QuickBooks, and availability setting. Even while being the most comprehensive software of the platforms we reviewed, Homebase is one of the easiest to use for both managers and employees, and its mobile app is also simple to navigate. Its ease of use and full list of features makes it our choice for the best overall scheduling software.
Best for Employees
Part of the purpose of scheduling software is to give your employees easy access to their schedules. We looked for software that not only lets employees see their schedules, but also allows them to request shift swaps with co-workers, pick up extra shifts, set their availability, and set up reminders about shifts via email and text. ShiftPlanning provides all of these features, and it has an easy-to-navigate interface that doesn’t require much of a learning curve while your employees adjust to the system.
Best for Quick Setup
Another benefit of buying employee scheduling software is to save you time so you can focus on other aspects of your business. However, it can sometimes be a hassle setting up new software, since you have to input schedules, employees and other information into an entirely new system.
Planday makes the transition to its software simple and straightforward. It has the shortest setup time out of the systems we reviewed and requires relatively little information from you before allowing you to get used to its interface. Adding employees and creating a schedule with this software is straightforward as well.
What Should You Look for in an Employee Scheduling Program?
While there are some basic elements all work scheduling software should have – like the ability to set and view schedules and to swap shifts – some other features might be worth considering in these platforms. Depending on the needs of your company, you might also benefit from specific integrations, the ability to message your employees or a time clock within the software.
Depending on how your accounting and payroll systems are set up, it might be worth checking what integrations are available with each scheduling software option. Popular integrations include ADP and QuickBooks, though some software might integrate with other programs as well. Integrations with payroll or accounting software can help you get through payday without headaches and also keep track of the cost of running your business.
Communication is key to a successful business. Many scheduling platforms provide a way for you to send messages to your employees, which can be helpful if you have an important note about a particular shift or if your employee needs to contact you about a concern regarding their availability.
It can save money and stress to have a time clock within the scheduling software. This way, employees only have to log in to one system, and you only have to work out scheduling and time with one system as well. The majority of the programs in our review include time clocks with their platforms.
How Can This Software Help Your Employees?
A major benefit of this software is that it keeps your employees informed of when they’re scheduled to work. Employee scheduling software can help your employees in other ways too, which will in turn ease your burden as their manager.
Reminders & Alerts
With everything going on in their lives, it can be easy for employees to forget when they’re scheduled to report to work. That’s why most employee scheduling software lets your employees set up reminders and alerts to help them remember when they’re supposed to come in. These can be delivered via email or text message.
The best employee schedule makers give employees the ability to swap shifts in the program. The software keeps track of requests and swaps and keeps you in the loop, so you’re always aware of what is happening with your employees. For most of these programs, the manager has to approve swaps.
To save you and your employees the headache of potential scheduling conflicts, the software in our review lets employees set their availability for any given week or day. While you’re setting the schedule, you are not forced to abide by the availability the employee has set, but having this information available can help you create a schedule that’s best for your employees and your office as a whole.
Employee Scheduling Software: What We Tested, What We Found
We tested 13 employee scheduling systems with the same scenarios to evaluate their ease of use for both managers and employees. Using free demos of comparable plans, our testers went into each platform as both a manager and an employee to test setting up schedules, swapping shifts and other tasks to create two proprietary scores.
Ease of Use
Our score for ease of use assesses the software from a manager’s perspective. Using the same company information across all 13 scheduling programs, we timed and evaluated the setup process for each. We created the same schedule for one week for six employees in each of the programs and evaluated the tools and features available for scheduling. We also timed the process and gave higher points to services that required less time to create the schedule we set up for testing. ShiftPlanning took the least amount of time to complete the schedule, whereas WorkSchedule.Net took the longest.
We considered other criteria in our score, including the ease of seeing and approving or disapproving requests, and whether or not the software allows you to publish scheduling conflicts, gives you a warning, or allows you to publish the conflict without any sort of warning first.
The employee accessibility score indicates how easy the software is to use from an employee standpoint. For our score, we considered how easily accessible the employee’s schedule is from the employee dashboard. We also took into account whether or not the software allows employees to request time off and how easy this process is. How customizable the employee profile and alerts are also factored into this score.
We heavily considered the user interface experience of the software for the employee accessibility score. Most of the software in our review had up-to-date UIs and received high scores; however, a couple of services were difficult to figure out, as their interfaces were not intuitive.
Other Worthwhile Considerations
In our review, we specifically looked for software with features for employees and managers, as well as thorough reporting, training and support. While the 10 products on our lineup are the 10 best employee scheduling systems available with all of these features combined, other programs we looked at might be worth your consideration.
Snap Schedule 365 is popular scheduling software that many administrators find especially helpful. It is not currently in our review because its employee portal is separate from its basic program. The employee access comes at an extra cost, whereas the systems in our lineup include this feature automatically.
Another program worth investigating is When I Work. It’s easy to use and has an especially helpful setup process, but it did not meet our criteria for our review because it does not offer reports in its program, though you can export data and make your own reports.
Is Employee Scheduling Software Worth It?
Ultimately, whether or not you’re satisfied with the ROI of employee scheduling software depends largely on the needs of your company, the type of scheduling you need for your company, the shifts your employees need to cover and other unique factors of your business. While it’s an extra expense, this software can decrease stress and confusion when it comes to scheduling for both your employees and your managers in charge of scheduling. Consider the needs of your managers and employees and see if employee scheduling software might be right for you.
Contributing Reviewers: Eli McCormick, Karina Fabian