Douglas Adams, the genius author behind The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, was once locked in a hotel room for three weeks by his editor because Adams was so incredibly behind schedule on the fifth book.
Don’t be that editor. Don’t lock your employees in a hotel room because they’re not working on your schedule. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal.
Instead, get yourself some employee scheduling software and organize your employees. I’m not saying that scheduling software can speed up a genius’s creative process. I just like that story – and it was more relevant than the Taylor Swift anecdote I was thinking about using.
Luckily for you, I’m not just going to leave you hanging with that order. Below, I’ve compared four of the top options available in the employee scheduling software world. All the options I’ve compared can be used for a wide range of industries, from retail stores to hospitals, as well as a wide range of business sizes, from teeny tiny to enterprise level.
Pros: Shiftplanning is a cloud-based solution, meaning that you can access your information from anywhere in the world that has wi-fi. It has an interactive drag-and-drop scheduler that you can customize to suit your scheduling needs.
Shiftplanning has some auto-scheduling functionality, and employees are able to sign up for open shifts and trade shifts without needing a manager to organize them. Shiftplanning also allows you to schedule based on skills instead of name, which is helpful if you schedule for multiple locations or need to schedule a specific skill for a specific shift.
Where Shiftplanning really shines is in its time clock functionalities. It has an online time clock that allows employees to turn their smartphones into time clocks. Its GPS stamping feature means that managers of dispersed workforces can make sure that employees are clocking in from the right locations.
Shiftplanning also utilizes biometrics to eliminate buddy clocking. A webcam can snap a photo at clock-in and clock-out to verify that the right person is clocking in. Additionally, Shiftplanning can alert employees to schedule changes and when they are supposed to clock in and out. Finally, Shiftplanning has a great time clock reporting feature that allows you to easily see who’s been late and absent and how many times it’s happened.
All accounts come with free 24/7 support via phone, live chat, and email.
Cons: In all honesty, the worst reviews I could dig up about Shiftplanning were from its download page for the iOS app. All three of these very brief, undated reviews say the app has severe functionality issues and spends a lot of time loading. I’d take these reviews with a mountain of salt though, as they are undated and two of the three are just a single sentence.
- $2.50/user/month gets you scheduling and reporting
- $3.50/user/month gets you scheduling, reporting, time & attendance, and time clock
- $3.60/user/month gets you all that plus employee training, work units, task scheduling, and task assignments
- $4/user/month gets all that plus parent/child accounts
- Custom pricing for enterprise level businesses
2. When I Work
Pros: When I Work has an editor that allows you to choose your view (by week, month, location, or even skills). When I Work does not have automated scheduling, but it does have self-scheduling. That means you can post open shifts and employees can claim them. Managers can set parameters around open shifts based on skill, location, availability, etc. to ensure that only good fits are able to take the shifts.
Employees can easily trade shifts without a manager, and the same parameters can be applied to shift trading. Last minute shift requests can also be sent out to any employees you would like to fill the shift, and the first person to claim the shift gets it.
Employees are able to manager their accounts entirely from their phones. From setting availability and putting in leave requests, to receiving schedule notifications and reminders when they haven’t clocked in, it’s all available on mobile devices.
Like Shiftplanning, employees can clock in from their phones, with fully enabled GPS tracking so you can follow an employee through their entire shift. Employees can also sync their calendars with a number of popular calendar formats, including iCal and Google Calendar. They can even elect to receive reminders on Twitter or Facebook.
Cons: Reviewers really love When I Work (one person even says the app is “shaamazing”), but there are a few complaints. One person mentioned that if you change or move a shift, you have to reenter all the information. Another person said you can only print the schedule in two week increments.
- $9/month for 5 employees with just scheduling or $17/month for scheduling and time and attendance
- $29/month for 11+ employees with just scheduling or $55/month for scheduling and time and attendance
- $79/month for 50+ employees with just scheduling or $149/month for scheduling and time and attendance
- $99/month for 100 employees with just scheduling or $187/month for scheduling and time and attendance
- Custom pricing for enterprise level businesses
These are just four sample price points that I picked to represent the pricing scheme. To get specific pricing for your business, refer to When I Work’s pricing page.
Pros: Like the other solutions, Nimble has a drag-and-drop editor that makes inputting schedules simple. Nimble allows you to save schedules into templates, so you can easily continue to reapply successful schedules. Open shifts can be picked up by any employee, or you can choose which employees should take those shifts.
Nimble allows you to customize notifications and alerts going out to your employees. Employees can also clock-in and out on their mobile devices, communicate with other employees, and see their schedules.
Nimble’s greatest recommendation is its flexible, low pricing, which is very friendly to smaller businesses.
Cons: While reviewers are overwhelmingly positive about Nimble, they do mention a few issues. One reviewer said that the text notifications were not intuitive, and only half his employees would receive the sent texts, and they would receive them from a different number every time. Many reviewers also mention that Nimble’s ability to calculate overtime is very poor, and that it seems to only calculate overtime for ALL employees or none.
- $1/user/month (when billed annually, with a minimum of 9 users) gets you the app, payroll reporting, autoscheduling, shift trading, and unlimited locations and employees
- $2/user/month (when billed annually, with a minimum of 9 users) gets you the app, payroll reporting, autoscheduling, shift trading, unlimited locations and employees, dedicated account manager, priority phone support, free onboarding, and intregrations with POS, HR, accounting and payroll software
- $.25/user/month for group texting
- $1.50/user/month for texting to clock-in
- $3.00/user/month for mobile timeclock
Nonprofits are discounted at 15%.
Pros: Again, WorkSchedule.net has a drag-and-drop editor to make scheduling easy. It can send out schedule alerts through email, and auto-emails schedule changes, as well as reminding employees about their shifts. Employees can check the schedule online, or if they don’t have internet access, they can actually call a hotline to hear their schedule!
WorkSchedule.net’s biggest selling point though, is its automated scheduling. It’s the most advanced auto-scheduler on this list, and certainly the only one that may be able to schedule completely on its own.
After you spend time entering in all your employees’ details, from availability and preferred shifts, to rank and skill set, WorkSchedule.net can auto-schedule based on those criteria. Managers can set eliminating rules and preference rules to further guide the auto-scheduler.
Eliminating rules prevent the auto-scheduler from scheduling certain employees (individuals or groups) from being scheduled for a particular shift. Preference rules are the opposite. It will likely take some man-hours to get all the necessary information input, but it’s very worth it.
Cons: Like Shiftplanning, it’s hard to find any poor reviews of the software. Android app users have had trouble with it, but the company has responded to every bad review with an explanation of how to correct the issue and offering to help them personally (suggesting that this company has great customer service). Personally, I find the interface somewhat clunky looking, and think it could use some updating to appear more modern.
These are only four options of the huge number of employee scheduling software options available, many of which are equally fantastic. For a full listing, you can check Capterra’s time clock and employee scheduling directories, or read up on some free scheduling options.
I’d love to hear what you use and why you love it (or hate it!). Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below.
Looking for Employee Scheduling software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Employee Scheduling software solutions.