Whether your company has 5 employees or 5,000, scheduling shifts is a daunting, time-consuming, and potentially error-prone task. But with the advent of software as a service (SaaS) tools for scheduling your workforce, it doesn’t have to be that way. The best employee scheduling software gives even small startups an easy way to schedule employees that cuts costs and boosts productivity.
Learn about these top shift schedulers on the market, from free tools for very small companies to more robust offerings that handle more complex scheduling tasks.
What is employee scheduling software?
Employee scheduling software is an app that takes the work out of scheduling (and re-scheduling) employees. It’s also referred to as shift scheduling software, staff scheduling software, or shift management tools. These apps let you schedule, update, and track employee hours in real-time.
Most of the employee scheduling apps below are free or have free trials, while others charge on a monthly/annual basis. Features vary but typically include employee and schedule management, absence management, payroll and budget tracking, and employee self-service.
Let’s dig into the top shift schedulers, ranked by popularity and user ratings.
1. QuickBooks Time – best shift scheduler
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, high-value employee scheduling tool with top-notch functionality and customer support, consider the QuickBooks Time
app. This is an excellent tool for startups and small companies, thanks to its simple time-tracking features from any device or location.
This app dovetails seamlessly with QuickBooks, letting you review time cards, run payroll, and create invoices all from one place. It’s also user-friendly and boasts GPS-linked geofencing, real-time project tracking, reliable customer support, and schedule templates.
2. When I Work – solid runner-up
This powerful shift scheduler puts your employees’ schedules at their fingertips. The intuitive interface lets you see which employees have acknowledged their schedules, so there aren’t any surprises. You’ll see time-off requests at a glance, and scheduling is fast and pain-free.
When I Work
’s in-app communication with in-person and remote employees
essentially eliminates phone calls and texts. You can also put a mobile time clock on employee phones, and there’s a 14-day free trial.
3. Connecteam – for deskless teams
’s mobile-first employee scheduling solution is designed for deskless teams, allowing users to improve daily processes and team communication on the go.
More than 8,000 companies and 100,000 employees use this app worldwide. Small teams can even use their free forever plan. One of the tool’s best features is that its developers implement user feedback to improve this scheduler.
4. 7Shifts – restaurant shift management
is a stable, intuitive, and restaurant-focused shift scheduler for small businesses. It’s also free for teams under 10. It cuts labor costs and slash staff texts and calls by a claimed 70% while saving up to 80% of time spent scheduling with its drag-and-drop scheduler.
7shifts also serves up delicious employee engagement stats to help trim your turnover by spotlighting your most and least engaged employees. With 700,000 users in restaurants like Five Guys and Jamba Juice, this is the food-time scheduler par excellence. It’s also free forever for single locations.
5. Deputy – shift scheduling and payments
is an excellent, easy-to-use shift scheduling software tool that delivers plenty of time-tracking data in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming. You can quickly track payments to employees, and most importantly, its customer support is legendary.
A handy training feature lets you see which employees are qualified to take on certain tasks. One drawback is that the platform can be a little glitchy, which can significantly impact employee scheduling. It’s free for up to 100 employees.
6. Wrike – shift scheduling plus project management
Beyond simply scheduling your team, Wrike
is a project management tool like Asana or Trello. It also works as a mobile scheduling app and an ongoing projects tracker. Wrike is best for agile teams that need to plan their projects and the daily schedules of the team members who work on them.
Employees can communicate, adjust, and collaborate from a single platform, and a vibrant user community makes learning a snap. The cost does tend to ratchet up over time, so budget-conscious managers may want to look elsewhere, though it’s free for the first 5 users.
7. Humanity – fast employee scheduling
The last thing you want from a shift scheduler is a hassle planning out your weekly schedule. Humanity
’s platform lets you access your schedule, managers, and message board lightning-fast. Employees can easily trade shifts with an automatic feature that eliminates swapping errors.
You can also create repeating schedules with just a few clicks and make adjustments on the fly. The tool gets high marks for customer service, though there’s no geofencing or billable vs. non-billable support. Pricing varies by industry.
8. Homebase – free forever for large teams
is suitable for managing time and attendance, with features like an employee mobile app, custom time clocks, and related HR features like a job post creation tool and an applicant tracking system.
The app’s integration between hiring and managing is nice, with efficiencies like day-one scheduling for new employees. One drawback is the software’s relative lack of scalability. As your team grows, you may find your software solution slowing down. It’s free for the first location.
9. Sage HR – total HR management
delivers an excellent employee scheduling app, but it adds a 360-degree HR experience. You can use it to onboard employees, schedule, create timesheets, handle leave and overtime, and manage expenses and onboarding.
Customer support is available 24/7 with fast answers, and handy integrations with other apps like Slack and Google Calendar will keep you on top of any scheduling curveballs.
10. BambooHR – comprehensive HR tool
is geared for small and medium-sized businesses that want to store all their employee info in one place. This scheduling solution is couched in a full-service HR platform and goes a step beyond, adding a useful reporting feature for execs.
With satisfied enterprise clients like Fitbit, Freshbooks, Squarespace, and thousands of SMBs, this is a platform without much downside thanks to its user-friendly interface and comprehensive features list
. Pricing is available by quote.
11. ClockShark – best for construction
If you’re running a construction company or a field service business, the ClockShark
employee scheduling app is built especially for you. Its mobile time-tracking interface and timesheets and labor cost recording features let you schedule and track job details in one place.
This shift scheduler also handles invoices, quotes, and payments. It integrates with Quickbooks, Xero, and dozens of other popular apps, making it a full-service HR solution for the construction business model. It’s amazingly user-friendly, and the GPS-tracking feature and customer service are exceptional.
12. Shiftboard – for essential industries
is custom-built for mission-critical industries like healthcare and energy. However, it offers versions for service-centric organizations (ScheduleFlex
) and manufacturing (SchedulePro
). It’s geared toward large workforces, with handy features like broadcasting to the team to ask for shift coverage.
This tool is very visual, making it easy to see what’s covered and what’s not. It lacks a little in customizability, though the end-user experience is excellent. Prices vary by product.
13. Shiftbase – for mixed teams and enterprise brands
Used by Mariott, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, and 3,000 other businesses, Shiftbase
simplifies scheduling for full- and part-time employees in mixed teams. You can create flexible repeating schedules that factor in budgets, costs, turnover, and employee availability and absences.
Employees and managers can see their schedules right in the mobile app in real-time, swap shifts, and set their availability to make things easier on their supervisors. You can also invite employees to cover open shifts and set required shifts, useful for meeting required minimums.
14. Zoho People – staff scheduler with HR tools
A core HR app, Zoho People
manages HR tasks like scheduling, case management, and other HR workflows, while providing a scalable employee database. While you can schedule shifts, track attendance and days off, and deliver timesheets with this scheduler, you can also use goal setting and analytics to manage performance.
The app speeds up onboarding time and has an incredibly comprehensive features list. While it can get expensive as you grow, it’s free forever for the first 75 employees.
15. APS Payroll Employee Scheduling Software – integrates with payroll
may be known for its payroll software, but its scheduling tool has its fans. This powerful platform allows you to assign employees to shifts based on your needs and budget. Employees can view schedules on mobile and desktop and through email or printed copy.
The most useful feature is payroll integration, which lets you create accurate labor cost projections that align with company budgets. Ask them for a free price quote.
The entries in this list of the best employee scheduling apps are all excellent, without a weak link in the bunch. Yet many of the shift schedulers are specifically designed for a particular niche, such as manufacturing, construction, large teams, small teams, or a mobile workforce. Each one offers deep efficiencies over the spreadsheets-and-phone-calls staff scheduling techniques of yesteryear.
About the Author: Tom Gerencer is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Tom is an ASJA journalist, a career expert at Zety.com, and a regular contributor to Boys' Life and Scouting magazines. His work is featured in Costco Connection, FastCompany, and many more.