20 Free Employee Scheduling Software Tools | 2023
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Ask 10 managers about the best staff rota tools and you’re likely to get 10 very different answers. That’s because most managers still use the system on which they were first trained — even if that system comes from the last century.
But creating an effective staff rota is about more than just putting names into time slots. It’s about simplifying and streamlining your managerial life while making it easier to create the best work schedule for you, your team, and your business.
In this article, the workforce-management experts at Sling discuss solutions for small businesses and give a definitive answer to the question of which one is the best staff rota tool for busy managers.
The best staff rota tools do more than just schedule your employees. They save time, improve efficiency, and allow you to focus on more important aspects of running your business.
When considering which tools to incorporate into your business’s workflow, it’s useful to ask yourself what you need the software to do.
So, don’t settle for less than the best tools available. They’re out there, and they can transform the way you do business.
At its heart, word processing software like Microsoft Word was created with the written word in mind. The original programmers certainly didn’t have scheduling in mind when they designed it.
When it comes right down to it, then, word processing software is basically just glorified pen and paper. It can get the job done — and has for a long time — but you’ll have to put in some major effort to make it work in today’s digital work culture.
Bottom line: While Word does make the list of best staff rota tools, it’s nowhere near the top spot.
Like its sibling, Microsoft Excel wasn’t designed to be one of the best staff rota tools. Rather, its original function was as a database and accounting tool, and it’s in these tasks that it excels (pun intended).
It can certainly be made to work as a scheduling tool — resizing rows, columns, and individual cells is much easier than it is in Word — but it’s still most at home calculating formulas and tracking inventory.
Google Docs and other online word processing tools are a step up on the list of best staff rota tools, but they still contain many of the same problems that plague their native brethren.
With Google Docs, the distribution has been streamlined considerably because everything is done in the cloud where anyone can access it (with permission, of course).
That problem solved, though, the creation of the staff rota still leaves a lot to be desired.
Like Word, Google Docs was meant for text-based projects such as letters and reports. As such, its most powerful features are focused along those lines and not toward making the scheduling process easier for you.
Google Sheets — Google’s cloud spreadsheet program — is much like Excel in that it makes the formatting of the schedule much easier by allowing you to resize rows, columns, and cells.
And, like Google Docs, it easily overcomes the speed bump of distribution by making everything available in the cloud.
But it still has many of the same limitations that push other spreadsheet programs into the lower ranks of the best free staff rota tools.
Microsoft Outlook can be an excellent replacement for word processors, spreadsheets, and their cloud-based counterparts. And, chances are, you have a free scaled-down version of the program on your computer already.
So what makes Microsoft Outlook a viable (though not perfect) entry on our list of the best staff rota tools?
As calendar software, Microsoft Outlook is much more amenable to scheduling because it was created with planning in mind. Blocks of time — hours, days, weeks, months, and even years — are already set up and can be manipulated with ease.
That said, calendar programs like these were made for a single individual and can’t handle complex business scheduling, such as overlapping shifts, rotating shifts, and night shifts for multiple team members.
Another viable entry on this list of best staff rota tools is Google Calendar.
Google Calendar combines the ease of cloud-based creation and distribution with the power of a calendar specifically designed for scheduling.
One major drawback of Google Calendar, however, is that, like Microsoft Outlook, it was originally designed to be a personal calendar, not to schedule multiple employees.
With some effort, you can make it work, but the overall process is akin to forcing a square peg through a round hole. There are much better options out there, and we haven’t even gotten to the best of the best staff rota software yet.
Trello is another free online tool you can use to organize your team into some semblance of a schedule. As with the other entries on this list, it’s not the best staff rota tool, but it is better than the previous ones.
Trello takes advantage of the cloud to stay in sync no matter which device you’re on so you can interact with your team anywhere, anytime. Trello even works in real-time so that when you make changes, everyone can see them.
Trello, though, is more of a task or to-do list than a full-service staff rota tool. It can act as a coordination and organization system, but it’s more of a distribution channel than an app that can actually streamline and simplify your business’s scheduling process.
There’s no need to add more issues to the scheduling process when you can harness the power of the best staff rota tool that has been specifically designed to remove all the problems and make organizing your team one of the easiest jobs you’ve got.
While many of the options on this list make the scheduling process simpler in one or two regards, the best of the best staff rota software — Sling — helps you in all aspects of managing your restaurant, hotel, retail establishment, coffee shop, bar, or any business with more than one employee.
The Sling app offers a wide variety of integrated tools, including:
No longer do you have to struggle with multiple apps that don’t work well together.
From establishing your own business-based newsfeed for employees to streamlining payroll to creating tasks that help everyone work better, Sling truly is the best staff rota tool for busy managers.
Try Sling for free today and see what you’ve been missing!
And for more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.
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This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal, tax, HR, or any other professional advice. Please contact an attorney or other professional for specific advice.