Employee Scheduling Software

What is Employee Scheduling Software?

Employee scheduling software - also referred to as staff scheduling software, shift planning software, workforce scheduling software, and rostering software - is used by companies who employ a shift-working workforce to ensure that all shifts are covered by an optimal number of adequately qualified staff.

Core functions of an employee scheduling software include automated / recurring scheduling, calendar management, time-off tracking, labor costing, and either built-in payroll or payroll integration. The software should enable the efficient creation, management and sharing of work schedules with staff, replacing manual timesheets and manual availability updates. Labor costing features, when provided, help managers to ensure that labor costs don't exceed sales or operating budgets.

Employee scheduling software will typically include an employee database with employees’ contact information, job titles, their specific skills or qualifications, and information on their availability. Employees may also be able to record their shift preferences and time-off requests, for managers to take into consideration when creating work schedules. Employee scheduling software will often take into account the skill sets of employees in order to ensure that the most adequate, qualified, or cost-effective staff are placed on shift.

An employee scheduling software should provide scheduling managers with visibility on the availability of their workforce, and employees with easy visibility on when they’re due to work. Work calendars can often be color-coded and configured to display daily, weekly, or monthly views depending on business needs. Many employee scheduling solutions also support communication between shift workers, who, with or without approval from scheduling managers, may pick up, drop, or swap shifts between themselves. In addition, real-time push or email notifications can help to avoid no-shows and ensure that the correct number of employees are in the right locations at the right times. Native mobile apps for iOS or Android devices, or simply mobile web apps can facilitate access to the platform for employees when they’re not at work.

Employee Scheduling software features guide

Core employee scheduling software features

Feature Description
Schedule management Automates the process of creating, maintaining, and updating schedules for individuals, groups, and teams.
Time and attendance tracking Records employee login and logout times and maintains employee attendance records to ensure accuracy when payroll is run.
Absence management Tracks employee time-off requests and leave history to ensure an accurate count of paid time off (PTO) days remaining.
Labor management Provides tools to manage every aspect of employee scheduling-from scheduling upcoming activities to forecasting available resources for projects.
Integration Allows scheduling software to work with various third-party applications, either through script coding or API connectors, to harness the best abilities of each application and improve business processes.
Security Ensures the security and safety of confidential business and employee data with permission-based access to critical information as indicated by a user's role and position in the organization.

Schedule management

Shift scheduling is one of the core-albeit most complicated and time-consuming-tasks for any shift manager. It's even tougher when there are multiple shifts, round-the-clock operations, and a scattered workforce.

Automating this process can ensure employees know their schedules in advance and that everyone is informed about planned and unexpected time off. Managers can also track employee location on a map, making it easier for them to keep track of a mobile workforce. Read below to see how these scheduling functionalities can help you improve your staffing processes.

Functionality Description
Automated scheduling Allows managers to view employees' availability in real-time and create schedules for them without any overlapping or time conflicts.
Team calendars Provides visibility into employee schedules, so anyone on the team can see the availability of other team members.
Availability management Allows employees to publicize schedules and availability to the rest of the team, making it easier for others to book meetings or quick catch-ups with them.
Group scheduling Helps managers to set schedules for the entire team or individual group members from one place.
Job scheduling Helps prioritize job requests, assign complete jobs or subtasks to available employees, and monitor progress.
Location tracking Allows team managers and HR to access the location of the employees via GPS when they are working remotely. Also allows for location-based clock in/out and tracking of drive time versus time on site.
Multilocation Enables users to schedule employees across multiple locations from a single interface.

Time and attendance tracking

Automating scheduling processes means receiving real-time updates on attendance, hours worked, break time, and overtime. Listed below are the basic time and attendance functions that you'll find in many employee scheduling tools.

Functionality Description
Clock in/out Captures employee in and out time, letting business owners know the actual time spent by workers on the job. Clock in/out capabilities are especially useful for workplaces with multiple shifts.
Employee time clock Application-based mechanisms for clocking in and out that allow businesses to keep track of hours worked, as well as absenteeism, late check-ins, or proxy punch-ins.
Hourly employee tracking Tracks employees' activities for projects that involve hour-based billing.
Project time tracking Enables managers to accurately capture the collective time spent on each project, detect possible bottlenecks, and calculate billable and nonbillable working hours.
Timesheets Digital time cards where employees record working hours and the time spent on assigned projects and tasks.
Biometrics Assists businesses with clock in/out using one or more biometric traits such as fingerprints, hand shape and size, face shape, etc. Restricts unauthorized access to the premises.
Overtime tracking Allows managers to track any extra time spent by employees on projects and tasks that extend beyond normal business hours and calculate the corresponding overpay, with an adjusted rate, if necessary.

Absence management

Employee absences and unexpected leave-although unavoidable-will inevitably impact productivity. If a crucial member of the team must unexpectedly take leave in the middle of a critical project, what are your options as a manager?

You could borrow a resource from another team, or you could ask the rest of the team to chip in extra time.

In either case, adjusting the schedule and rearranging deadlines is a huge task. However, employee scheduling software with absence management features can help you manage schedule changes. Here, we'll explore some of the absence management functionalities you can expect to find in a scheduling tool.

Functionality Description
Vacation/leave tracking Allows managers to create multiple categories of time-off requests and track workforce availability on specific dates.
Time-off requests Sets up a process where employees can check their accrued leave balance, submit time off requests, and get approvals from their managers and/or HR.
Calendar management Enables businesses to schedule daily workflows and events, track meetings and appointments, and let employees plan their tasks accordingly. Also displays information such as business holidays, planned leave, employee birthdays, etc.
Employee portal Dedicated portals where employees can perform basic administrative functions such as requesting PTO, tracking approval status, submitting expenses, generating reports, and more.
Real-time notifications Sends automated notifications to employees of upcoming appointments and events in real-time via text messages, emails, and mobile push notifications.

Labor management

Particularly for labor intensive industries, such as warehousing, the labor management feature of a scheduling tool can help you avoid being over or under capacity.

It can also help you manage seasonal workers, track productivity and performance, and identify areas for improvement. In addition, real-time reporting ensures you have all the data and information required for audit and compliance procedures in one place.

Some of the key labor management features that you'll likely find in an employee scheduling system are listed below.

Functionality Description
Labor cost reporting Allows users to track and report all wages paid to employees, the costs associated with employee benefits, and direct and indirect overhead costs.
Compliance management Helps ensure compliance with government policies and industry standards. Allows users to record, prepare, and report employee compensation and benefit details in set formats for compliance and audit reporting.
Budgeting and forecasting Makes it possible for users to align project schedules with budgets and accurately forecast and plan labor requirements.
Employee management Allows managers to oversee every aspect of employee administration-from time and attendance reporting to generating payroll, and from job scheduling to managing approvals.
Expense tracking Allows employees to submit expenses incurred while working on a project through a dedicated portal where they can upload receipts and track reimbursements.
Payroll management Tracks employee salaries, bonuses, 401(k) contributions, health benefits, and other deductions; calculates withholdings for taxes and generates paychecks based on hours worked, including regular working hours and overtime.


As a small business, you may be using a variety of tools and methods for managing operations, staff, facilities, payroll, etc. Integrating these disparate tools with your scheduling software means data collected in one system can seamlessly flow into another, making for faster, more accurate data entry and reporting.

Employee scheduling software often integrates with other apps such as accounting, payroll, email, time clock, etc. Listed below are some of the employee scheduling functions related to key integrations.

Functionality Description
Accounting integration Supports integration with third-party accounting software apps such as QuickBooks, Xero, and FreshBooks to share details about project expenses and billable hours and generate accurate project costs and streamline payroll.
Mobile integration Enables employees to access and view their schedules, to-dos, appointments, and messages on their mobile devices via a native mobile app or using mobile browsers.
API An API, or application programming interface, allows businesses to interface the software with external applications such as talent management, payroll management, accounting, and more. This allows for the seamless transfer of employee data across applications and provides complete information on a single interface.
Payroll integration Allows the scheduling software to integrate with third-party payroll software for transferring work hour details and running accurate payroll. Such integration also eliminates the need for duplicate data entry, as the information is synchronized between the applications in real-time.
Email integration Allows employees to integrate multiple third-party email accounts, such as Gmail and Outlook, with their scheduling application allowing employees to view their schedules, activities, contacts, and communications, in one place.
Time clock integration Facilitates the transfer of time and attendance records between scheduling software and independent time clock applications to accurately record and monitor employee attendance.
SMS integration Sends automated alerts and notifications related to shift schedules, time clocks, etc., to employees and managers in the form of text messages.


Data loss due to breach, theft, or system failure can not only cause frustration, headaches, and downtime; it can also result in profit losses and a tarnished brand image. Compromising critical employee data such as salary and direct deposit details, job application forms, appraisal forms, insurance details, etc. can also lead to legal repercussions.

Employee scheduling software that comes equipped with security features can shield your data against all external and internal dangers. The most often seen security features are listed below.

Functionality Description
Approval process control Enables businesses to set up approval processes for leave, projects, claims, etc. Ensures that every request made by an employee follows the proper channels before it is approved by the system.
Role-based permissions Allows businesses to set up different system access levels for employees based on their role in the organization (administrator, manager, supervisor, employee, intern, etc.) so they have visibility to view and access information permissible to their role only.
Secure data storage It's important for businesses to ensure proper safety of confidential employee data, whether it's stored in a public or private cloud or saved locally. Scheduling software should be equipped with tools that ensure proper safety of business data, using advanced data storage algorithms, multifactor authentication, SSL-grade encryptions, and more.
Secure login Provides safe access to an application using a combination of unique ID and password, which restricts unauthorized access and reduces fraudulent activities.
SSL security SSL, or secure socket layer, establishes an encrypted link between the client and the server to ensure data safety.
User access controls Allows defining an administrator who can control every right and permission related to the application and configure access levels for rest of the users based on their role and activity.

Additional features

Some employee scheduling software platforms also offer additional features that can help your day-to-day business operations run more smoothly. Below, we'll take a look at these features, along with how they can benefit your business.

Functionality Description
Skills tracking Helps users track employees' core competencies and schedule jobs based on specific attributes, skill sets, certifications, and training. Managers can create and assign training courses to teams or individuals to continually develop their their skill sets.
Chat Allows team members to communicate within the platform via instant message. Some advanced chat messengers also allow sharing audio and video files, as well as documents to improve employee collaboration.
Mobile alerts Send and receive alerts on mobile phones to ensure that employees never miss critical events scheduled for them while on the go.
Real-time reporting Allows users to view and analyze different aspects of the business in real time through custom reports or a dynamic dashboard that provides valuable insights related to employee attendance, labor costs, shift hours, etc., at a glance.
Communication management Bridges the gap between managers and employees by streamlining multichannel communication (email, chat, text message, etc.); keeps everyone on same page.
Data import/export Ability to transfer, export, and import data to and from multiple sources, including on-premise system, as well as cloud-based and third-party applications.

Employee Scheduling Category Leaders Q3 2018

GetApp's quarterly ranking showcases the leading 10-15 Employee Scheduling apps based in the cloud. Each app is scored using five factors, worth 20 points each, for a total possible score out of 100. These factors include user reviews, integrations, mobile app availability, functionality, and security. Each app's score is independent of commercial interests and existing relationships that GetApp has with app vendors.

Scroll down for more details about inclusion criteria and scoring.


What is Category Leaders?

GetApp's Category Leaders graphic identifies leading cloud-based software products in the Employee Scheduling software category. If you’re a business owner or decision maker who is evaluating Employee Scheduling technology options for your company, Category Leaders is for you.

The ranking highlights key factors that small businesses should consider when assessing which software products may be right for them. These factors include user perception (“user reviews”), compatibility with other systems (“integrations”), mobile offerings (“mobile”), technical capabilities (“functionality”), and product security (“security”).

To create each Category Leaders ranking, our research team typically evaluates hundreds of products in any one category. The 10-15 with the highest scores become Category Leaders.

What makes a product eligible for Category Leaders?

Category Leaders is focused on the North American Employee Scheduling software market. To be eligible for inclusion, products must offer a core set of functionality, as determined by our research analysts, who provide coverage of and have familiarity with products in that market. Please see the “Functionality” section below for additional details on the core set of functionality we define for the Employee Scheduling market.

Since Category Leaders is intended to cover the Employee Scheduling market at large, individual analysts use their market experience and knowledge, existing market-based research, and small business software buyer needs analysis to assess an application's suitability for a given category depending on whether it can reasonably be expected to be relevant to most small business buyers across industries searching for a system with a strong focus on Employee Scheduling capabilities.

In addition, a product must have at least 20 unique user-submitted product reviews across the three Gartner Digital Markets web properties: softwareadvice.com, capterra.com, and getapp.com, and those reviews must be published within 18 months of the start of the analysis period. The analysis period for the Q3 2018 Category Leaders update is December 22, 2016 to June 22, 2018.

How are the scores calculated?

An app's score is calculated using five unique data points, each scored out of 20, resulting in a total score out of 100. The ranking and scoring methodology ensures complete impartiality and independence from any relationships that GetApp has with app vendors.

User Reviews

Review scores are calculated using weighted reviews collected from GetApp and its sister sites, Software Advice and Capterra. This score is based on average user ratings (on a scale from 1 to 5) of how satisfied users are with a product overall. The scoring includes ratings left within the previous 18-month period; ratings that are more recent are weighted more heavily.

The methodology calculates the percentile ranking for each product relative to all other products in the software category that have qualified for inclusion. That percentile ranking is then translated into a 1 to 20 score.


Integration scores factor in a number of variables. Up to 16 points are awarded based on the number of integrations an app has. The first 10 points are awarded based on the number of integrations relative to the category average, while 4 points are awarded based on the number of integrations relative to the leaders in the category. An additional 5 points is awarded for an integration with Zapier, a widely used software integration platform, while an extra point is given for having an open API. The total possible score for integrations is 20 points.

Mobile Platforms

Mobile scores are calculated based on the availability of an iOS and Android app. Five points are awarded for the presence of each app, with an additional 10 points awarded for the number and average rating of reviews in both the App Store and Google Play. These review scores are calculated on a scale based on the category average for a maximum of 5 points per platform and an overall maximum score of 20.

If there isn't a native iOS or Android app, the product's website is assessed using Google's PageSpeed Insights to measure mobile usability. A score out of 100 is given, then scaled to a score out of 5 for a maximum of 5 points.


Functionality scores are assigned based on a combination of two assessments: user ratings and functionality breadth data.

Fifty percent of the score is based on average user ratings on a scale from 1 to 5 of how satisfied users are with the product’s functionality. The scoring includes ratings left within the previous 18-month period; ratings that are more recent are weighted more heavily.

The methodology calculates the percentile ranking for each product relative to all other products in the software category that have qualified for inclusion. That percentile ranking is then translated into a 1 to 10 score.

The other 50% of the score is based on a functionality assessment of the product. For each software category, our research analysts define a core set of features that a product must offer, as well as additional “nice-to-have” common and optional features. For the Employee Scheduling category, we identify the following set of features:

  • Core features: employee scheduling, employee shift swapping, time and attendance tracking, and an employee time clock.

  • Common features (at least two of the following): overtime tracking, an employee self-service portal, customizable templates, and real-time reporting.

  • Optional features: payroll integration, multilocation scheduling, a drag-and-drop interface, budgeting and forecasting capabilities, automated scheduling, task scheduling, group scheduling, and compliance management.

Products are assessed according to how many of those pre-defined features they offer, and products with more features receive a higher score. We use this data to calculate a product's percentile ranking, which allows us to determine how products compare relative to one another rather than determine an absolute number.

All told, a vendor can receive up to 10 points based on user ratings and up to 10 points based on the features assessment for a total maximum score of 20 for “functionality.”


Security scoring is calculated using answers from a vendor-completed survey. The questions in the survey are based on the Cloud Security Alliance self-assessment form as part of the Security, Trust & Assurance Registry, supplemented by the expertise of our security research experts. Each answer in the 16-question survey is assigned a point value. The scoring then calculates the percentile ranking for each product relative to all other products in the software category that have qualified for Category Leaders consideration. That percentile ranking is then translated into a 1 to 20 score.

In the event of a tie, each data point is weighted for importance, with security taking precedent, followed by reviews, integrations, mobile apps, and functionality, respectively.

External Usage Guidelines

Providers must abide by the Category Leaders External Usage Guidelines when referencing Category Leaders content. Except in digital media with character limitations, the following disclaimer MUST appear with any/all Category Leaders reference(s) and graphic use:

GetApp Category Leaders constitute the subjective opinions of individual end-user reviews, ratings, and data applied against a documented methodology; they neither represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by, GetApp or its affiliates.