If you’ve ever worked a shift-based job, “employee scheduling” probably brings to mind images of paper schedules hastily pinned to bulletin boards or taped to lockers. And if you’ve ever managed a shift-based team, you know exactly how much work goes into those pieces of paper every week.
The good news is you don’t have to do it all manually. Employee scheduling apps are invaluable for businesses that need to schedule workers efficiently and without frustration. They can help determine what staff you need on hand, who’s available to work, and whether your labor costs align with your budget. If you’re scheduling teams across multiple locations or in the field, employee scheduling software can also make it much easier to duplicate schedules and track who’s working where. And, of course, shift work scheduling apps can let employees know when they’re expected to work—and facilitate last-minute shift-swapping.
Here we’ll present the eight best employee scheduling apps to help you decide which is best for your business.
What Makes a Great Employee Scheduling App?
Every business’s scheduling needs are different, but all great employee scheduling software has a few things in common:
It can handle complex schedules—without being complicated to use. One of the hardest parts about scheduling employees is that everyone works different hours, for different pay, in different roles. It’s a huge logistical challenge to make sure you have all of the right staff on hand for every shift—especially if customer traffic is a factor in how many employees you schedule.
The best employee schedule makers feature intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces that make it easy to schedule employees and make changes as your staffing needs evolve. It also offers tools like color-coding, tagging, and at-a-glance summaries of every worker scheduled for a particular shift.
It keeps employees in the loop via mobile app. When you schedule or change a shift, it’s important that employees know as soon as possible. Otherwise, you can run into real problems with tardiness or no-shows.
Excellent employee schedule makers offer multiple ways to communicate schedules to your staff. Email notifications are usually the default—but many people don’t check their email constantly, so they can easily miss important changes. That’s why the very best scheduling tools offer a mobile app that can push notifications directly to an employee’s phone—so they’ll never miss a change again.
These mobile apps are also great for enabling employees to track their schedules and swap shifts as needed.
It can schedule groups of employees or specific positions, not just individual workers. Usually, everyone on a team has a slightly different role. When it comes to scheduling, you need to make sure that you’re appropriately staffed at all times. The best scheduling apps offer straightforward tools for scheduling employees based on their role, title, or as groups.
It makes it simple to import/export crucial information, like timecards or lists of employees. Scheduling is only one of a broader set of business-critical HR processes. It’s directly tied to other workflows, like processing payroll and approving time off. It’s also impacted by changes to hiring; when you onboard a new employee, you need to make sure all of their information is available in your scheduling app.
Import/export is also crucial to keeping labor costs in line with your budget and projections, because you can’t tell whether you’re spending too much on staffing unless you can easily compare those costs with data from other sources. That’s why top employee scheduling apps feature robust import/export functions.
It’s available as a stand-alone app. While this isn’t a make-or-break criterion, the truth is that many small businesses need lightweight scheduling solutions—not expensive app suites. Many of the best employee scheduling apps come as stand-alone tools that are relatively inexpensive. They’re also mostly Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products, which means you don’t have to worry about installing or hosting anything, keeping information secure, or other technical concerns.
The 8 Best Employee Scheduling Apps
- Deputy for making more intelligent staffing decisions
- Findmyshift for people who like spreadsheets
- Homebase for retailers and restaurants
- Humanity for complex teams
- When I Work for keeping costs down
- TSheets for QuickBooks users
- Ximble for mobile or pop-up businesses
- Zoho People for an all-in-one HR solution
Deputy (Web, iOS, Android)
Best employee scheduling app for making more intelligent staffing decisions
Deputy is an all-in-one employee scheduling, timesheets, tasking, and communication platform. Getting started with Deputy is fairly straightforward: when you sign up, the app will prompt you to either add new employees manually or bulk import them from another source, like a spreadsheet. Adding a new shift is also pretty simple: just click Add Shift on the schedule. Once you’ve filled out a shift’s details, you can either schedule it or select from a list of helpful options, like repeating the shift tomorrow or for the rest of the week.
Deputy’s real strength, however, is that it offers several features that can help you make smarter staffing decisions. Its robust reporting features make it simple to analyze staffing data like how sales volume correlates with the number of employees on hand at any given time.
The Auto-Scheduling feature can also incorporate historical data and data from third-party sources to determine how certain factors—like the weather, time of day, or major events like holidays—impact your business. It then takes these factors into consideration when automatically generating schedules, so you always have an ideal number of staff on hand. These features make it a good choice for businesses that want to schedule employees more efficiently but who lack the skills or time to analyze scheduling trends themselves.
Deputy Price: From $2.50/month for each user for features like auto-scheduling, leave management, and unlimited 24/7 support.
Automate Deputy with Deputy’s Zapier Integrations.
Findmyshift (Web, iOS, Android)
Best employee scheduling app for people who like spreadsheets
Findmyshift bills itself as an intuitive, spreadsheet-style way to schedule employees. The app offers several ways to add new employees. You can drag and drop an employee list into your browser window, import from another app, add employees manually, or create an employee template.
Compared to other employee scheduling apps, Findmyshift’s interface feels a little more no-nonsense. The entire app is pretty text-based: Though you can drag and drop, you start by simply typing. To add a shift, for example, click on the calendar and type the shift’s start and end times (e.g., “9-5”). The app then automatically populates the shift onto the calendar.
In many ways, Findmyshift really is a nicer-looking spreadsheet with a few core features that make scheduling easier. That makes it a great employee scheduling app for users who want a straightforward experience or who don’t need a lot of bells-and-whistles.
Findmyshift Price: From $35/month for features like scheduling, unlimited employees, and templates.
Homebase (Web, iOS, Android)
Best employee scheduling app for retailers and restaurants
Homebase‘s drag-and-drop interface is a great option if you need an app that’s easy to learn. The app’s “Page Tips” feature allows you to enjoy a more guided experience, but you can toggle it off once you feel comfortable using the tool. Homebase also allows you to easily group employees into teams and view the schedule according to role or department. This makes it especially good for businesses like restaurants that need to see whether they have enough back-of-house staff versus front-of-house staff on the schedule.
Where Homebase really shines, however, is its native integrations with point-of-sale (POS) systems. If your business relies on POS terminals, you probably already know that they can be an invaluable source of data about customer traffic. With native integrations to common POS systems like Square, Toast, and Clover (and even industry-specific tools like Bevspot) you can make sure that your staffing decisions are backed by real data about when you do the most business.
These integrations also mean you only need to add or delete employees in one system, and the change will sync with the other tool—a huge plus if, like many retailers and restaurants, you hire additional staff seasonally or have high turnover.
Homebase Price: Starts free; paid plans from $19.95/month per location for features like SMS notifications and manager permissions.
Humanity (Web, iOS, Android)
Best employee scheduling app for complex teams
One of Humanity‘s best features is that it prominently displays the job title or role of everyone on the schedule. This way, you can tell at-a-glance who’s on deck—a key feature if your business is subject to regulations that require having staff with certain training or certifications on hand at all times. For example, you can easily identify when you’ve scheduled plenty of front-of-house staff but don’t have enough line cooks on hand.
The app also offers a great list of “repeat settings,” so you don’t have to schedule every shift manually. Instead, you can set rules for when an employee’s shift re-appears on the calendar—like “every nth day” or “Monday-Thursday until July 30th.”
It’s worth noting that Humanity also offers a 30-day free trial, whereas many other employee scheduling apps only offer two weeks. So if you’re not sure exactly what you need from an employee scheduling app, it can be a great place to start experimenting.
Humanity price: From $2/month for each user, with a $60/month minimum, for features like shift-trading and availability management.
When I Work (Web, iOS, Android)
Best employee scheduling app for keeping staffing costs down
When I Work offers one of the most robust, comprehensive views of how your staffing choices stack up against your budget. It allows you to input what percentage of your sales revenue you’d ideally like to spend on labor—and then displays how your labor costs actually stack up against your sales data. These numbers are always visible on the bottom of the schedule, so you can keep them top-of-mind when making staffing decisions and stay on top of expenses.
It also includes a Task List feature, so you can assign discrete tasks to employees and track them as they’re completed. These features make it a great choice for any business that needs a more robust employee scheduling tool to help meet targets or goals.
Some of When I Work’s most powerful features, however, are only available on paid plans. These include the ability to schedule and view workers across multiple job sites—a huge plus if your business routinely sends employees into the field, as with many home repair services.
When I Work price: Limited free plan for up to 75 users; paid plans starting at $1.50/month per user for features like 10+ day scheduling and remote job sites.
TSheets (Web, iOS, Android)
Best employee scheduling app for QuickBooks users
Technically, TSheets is a time tracking app, not an employee scheduling app. However, it does offer scheduling features—which is why we’ve included it on this list. In addition to viewing their schedule, employees can also use the TSheets mobile app to clock in and out of their shifts and track their breaks. You can then approve their timecards directly in TSheets, making it a great option for businesses who need to seamlessly track time worked against an employee’s schedule.
More notably, TSheets also offers deep native integrations to both of Intuit’s flagship accounting programs, QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online. You can automatically send key financial data like timesheets into the accounting programs to speed up processes like payroll and end-of-month close. The app also connects with other popular payroll tools ranging from Gusto to more traditional systems like ADP—so it’s a solid choice for businesses who want an employee scheduling app that will seamlessly fit into their existing app ecosystems.
TSheets price: Starting at $5/month per user, plus a $20/month base fee. If you choose an annual plan, however, this price drops to $4/month per user with a base fee of $16/month.
Ximble (Web, iOS, Android)
Best employee scheduling app for mobile/pop-up businesses
Ximble is similar to a lot of other employee scheduling apps. It offers all the features you’d expect, like the ability to schedule employees by role, repeat schedules, and see at-a-glance how much you’re spending on wages.
But Ximble’s mobile app is one of the best we’ve seen: intuitive, color-coded, and easy to navigate. And there’s no real loss of functionality; just about everything you can do in the web app, you can also easily do from your phone.
For instance, on many other mobile apps, it can be hard to track dynamic changes like requests across all your locations or job sites. But on Ximble, it’s easy to see all shifts available for pick-up, who wants to trade shifts, and who wants time off. There’s also a secure Team Chat feature, so you can communicate directly with employees as they’re out and about—without having to look up their phone number or send separate emails. That’s why we’ve named Ximble the best employee scheduling app for mobile or pop-up businesses.
Ximble price: Starting at $1/user per month for features like shift reminders and team chat.
Zoho People (Web, iOS, Android)
Best employee scheduling app for a comprehensive HR solution
If you’re familiar with business apps, you might already know Zoho as the creator of one of the most popular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools. But they also offer an HR suite of schedule, timecard, and payroll apps called Zoho People.
Because it’s intended as an app suite, Zoho People is best for slightly larger businesses that don’t just need scheduling capabilities but want a more robust HR solution. The scheduling features are similar to most other employee scheduling software, but you can also complete other HR tasks (like org charts, training and development, and performance reviews) in the same place. This eliminates the need to integrate multiple systems, manually export data, or context-switch between apps to execute business-critical processes.
Zoho People price: Starting at $1.66/user per month for features like scheduling and attendance.
Automate Zoho People with Zoho People’s Zapier Integrations.
Which Employee Scheduling Software Should You Choose?
There’s a wealth of employee scheduling apps out there, and most of them are fairly similar. So it’s crucial to know what’s most important to your business. Do you need an easy-to-navigate drag-and-drop interface? The ability to track how much you’re spending on labor? A mobile app that offers a seamless experience?
There are also lots of apps for appointment scheduling. We didn’t include those on this list, because most don’t have the right functionality for creating full employee schedules. However, if your business allows clients to book appointments—or if you just need to manage internal scheduling for meetings—these apps might work for you in place of a more traditional employee scheduling tool.
Of course, you can always stick with basic spreadsheets, too. There are lots of free employee scheduling templates for Google Sheets available online. The downside is you’ll have to fill all the information in manually and won’t be able to easily check for scheduling conflicts or notify employees of changes in real-time—which can be a lot of work if your business is more complex.