by Karen McCandless
Published on 13 December 2016
Jane wants next Tuesday off, Bill wants to only work weekends, and John wants to take on some extra hours before the holidays. If you're one of the organizations still creating your schedules on paper, the mere idea of this scenario will make you feel faint. Even Excel will leave you pulling your hair out. Enter employee scheduling apps, which can make you plan your schedule no matter where you and your workers are based.
To help you work out how to choose an app, we've put together a list of the top online staff scheduling software based on independent software reviews from our users. Each employee scheduling app needed to have a minimum of ten reviews to qualify for this list.
Average review score: 4.84/5 ( 86 reviews )
HR app Deputy combines employee scheduling with time and attendance, and task management features, as well as payroll integration and compliance report. This one-stop HR solution also works well on an iPad in the field, and includes time tracking and scheduling functionality for contractors.
Andy Logan, co-founder and managing director at Vape Emporium, says: "This has made the management of my staff scheduling infinitely easier. More to the point, I barely have to get involved in it now it is set up, as my store managers can just use it easily, without my involvement and the staff all picked it up immediately too. I was expecting some resistance, as you normally do with new processes and systems, but didn't hear a peep - they all loved it. The best bit is I can keep a birds eye view on what's going on, who's working, how much, when they clock in and out, where they were etc etc. Finally, it makes the pay run so much simpler and more effective too."
Average review score: 4.71/5 ( 21 reviews )
Employee scheduling is closely linked to payroll. Planday helps here by allowing you to take into account payroll costs when working out your workers' shifts. This collaborative app, which lets managers and employees work together to create a schedule, also automatically sends reports on the availability of your employees, any potential compliance issues, and payroll forecasts.
Eunice Nielsen, Vice President at CityCallCenter ApS, says: "I like that it is so easy for our employees to put a shift up for sale/trade, and we no longer have to note down who switched with who. However, we still have the security of having to confirm the switch before it's activated. My favorite part though, is the compatibility with our pay system. It saves me hours."
Average review score: 4.55/5 ( 69 reviews )
ShiftPlanning is a more complete HR tool in that it also allows you to manage your payroll, train your staff, and manage personnel files. It sends text and email reminders to employees about their shifts, lets them clock in and out via the app, and manage multiple locations with multiple schedules.
Gary Thompson, CMS architect, says: "If you have multiple locations, with multiple shifts, and multiple workers with specific skill sets. if you need to know who can work a specific location and who can't. If you need to know the availability of your resources. If you want your workers to be able to clock in using their phone, or be sure they are clocking in from a specific geographical location. If you want employees to be able to offer up their shifts to only equally qualified employees."
Average review score: 4.54/5 ( 122 reviews )
When I Work is one of the market's top employee scheduling apps, allowing you to easily view each of your employee's skills and expertise so you can schedule the right worker for the job. There is also location-based employee clock in, intuitive mobile apps that enable your workers to take open shifts wherever they are.
Mark Prynkiewicz, President at Big Grin Studio, says: "I gotta say that the WhenIwork app revolutionized the way I was doing my scheduling. We are unique company in that we generally only work on Saturday's and all our employees are contractors, so they set their availability. Before the app I would have to text them all asking if they were available to work on upcoming events and sometimes they would get back to me and sometimes they wouldn't. It made it very difficult for me to know what my staff resources were per event.
"Now with the app they are able to go in and block off days they are not available and when I need to schedule I can look at the app and know immediately who is available and who is not."
Average review score: 4.51/5 ( 84 reviews )
NimbleSchedule cuts out the admin hassle of organizing schedules with features including an alert you try to schedule an employee across different locations or at a time when they are not available. It also includes announcement functionality, much like the broadcast feature in WhatsApp, which allows you to send out the same news to multiple employees at one time via SMS.
Noora Cox, community coordinator at The Green Sage, says: "We use Nimble for scheduling across our three restaurants in Asheville, NC. The tool has helped us a great deal in allowing each of our three General Managers to schedule shared employees without double-scheduling any one employee. The app has had a few glitches where it takes awhile to load but for the most part works quite well.
"The time clock feature has also been beneficial in allowing us to virtually approve/edit time stamps for our employees. And the customer service is the best part! There is almost always someone available to chat with online and they're speedy and efficient in their responses."
If you've got experience with any of the employee scheduling apps listed above, let us know in the comments below or connect with me on Twitter.
Alternatively, you can check out our ranking of the top 25 employee scheduling apps for small businesses.
This article was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated.