3 Best Apps to Schedule your Team Rota in 2024

Swap paper rotas for a streamlined, digital solution and improve employee communication...
Sean QuinnPosted on Sunday, January 1st 2023

For most small business owners and team leaders, creating a schedule for your hourly staff takes up precious time every week, and this process is often still managed on paper.

Although paper work rotas are easy to draw up, if any adjustments need to be made to the schedule, things can get messy quickly.

Planning your shifts manually causes headaches for both you and your team; endless back and forth messages to group chats with updates are annoying for everyone, and without a central place to view their updated shifts, staff often end up missing shifts they weren't aware were scheduled in at the last minute, leaving you short staffed.

When working out your rota on paper, you'll also need to refer to your calendar and HR systems to work out who's on holiday, to avoid any conflicts. This can make an already time consuming process even more tricky.

Moving to a shift planner app or cloud-based rota system can help to eliminate these issues, saving you time every week and improving employee satisfaction too.

We've rated a few of the best options out there that are suited to small businesses, so you can assess which system is best for your shift-scheduling needs.

  1. TimeKeeper

TimeKeeper provides a simple and seamless way to plan out your week's shifts; simply click into the schedule to add a shift, colour code it and add notes if needed, then publish the rota to let your employees know they've been assigned a shift. The automatic app push notifications ensure that your team are kept up to date, even if you need to make changes last minute.

Once you begin to add shifts to your week, each employee's total will update to recalculate their scheduled hours vs. contracted hours, so you can ensure no one is burdened with unnecessary overtime.

As an all-in-one solution, your employees can use the same app to view their shifts as they use to clock-in. In a few taps, they can clock-in for their shift with facial recognition and GPS stamping if enabled, to ensure the right person is in the right place.

This cloud-based system then uses your rota schedule when calculating your employees timesheets - highlighting whenever they clocked in late or left early for a shift, as well as working out their overtime for the period. Save time by setting automatic breaks for their shift; TimeKeeper will deduct their unpaid breaks from their hours worked, without the need for your team to clock in and out for their break. This means one less thing for your team to remember to do during a busy day, and less manual calculations for you.

Once you're happy and have found the perfect schedule for your business, you can reuse your rota week after week to save even more time; simply copy and paste your week's shifts to a new week, then make any adjustments if needed.

TimeKeeper is one of the more affordable options out there, as shift scheduling is included along with timesheets, leave management and job tracking as part of their monthly subscription fee of £3.50 ex VAT per employee, per month. As you're charged per employee account, you can scale the system as your business grows; seasonal businesses can also add and remove employees as needed, to keep costs down in quieter months.


  • Currently no 'shift swapping' features for employees, however this will be available in future updates

2. WhenIWork

This app is designed to track all aspects of your employees' time, including planning their shifts, clocking their hours worked, calculating timesheets and overtime, as well as managing their time off. Integrating your rota planner with your time clock allows for greater insight into your labour budget, helping to keep control of costs.

The key benefit to the WhenIWork system is the autonomy it provides to employees; workers have the option to swap shifts and find cover if they're not available, and can also apply for shifts which have been made available to bid.


  • Maximum of 3 administrators, with no ability to set varying levels of seniority unless upgraded to Advanced plan
  • Expensive subscription costs ($8 per user for Advanced plan) when compared to other systems

3. Sling

Designed to make scheduling easy (particularly for hospitality and retail businesses), Sling allows you to plan out your hourly employees' week simply, highlighting where employees are booked off on leave or may be running into overtime. You can also add a 'Position' and 'Location' to each shift, to ensure each of your sites is adequately staffed with the right people.

Although rota planning is the core of the system, you have the option to add other features to your plan if needed - including a kiosk or mobile time clock, private messaging and shift swapping.


  • Most functions aren't available in the free plan - meaning you'll need to pay out for their Business Plan ($4 per user) to make the most of the system
  • No photo capture or facial recognition on the time clock leaves you vulnerable to buddy clock-ins

Choosing a Rota Planning App

Before choosing a scheduling solution for your business, it's important to test out not only the planning and timesheet capabilities, but also the user interface your employees will be interacting with. Most systems offer a free trial period with full access, which will provide an opportunity for you to test out each app in real scenarios, and find a solution which works for your team.

Last updated 23/02/2024: Title (date) changed by MW

Ready to save your
business time and money?