Running a small business team keeps any owner or manager on their toes, but managing a busy restaurant or store has added challenges that require industry-specific tools. Fluctuating sales and seasonal demand often make revenue hard to predict. And when you pair this with inconsistent staff availability, tasks like team scheduling and time tracking can get tricky.
Business owners may opt for a restaurant-specific staff management platform like 7shifts to save themselves time, stay compliant with labor laws, and make scheduling decisions in line with their sales targets. But 7shifts isn’t your only option, especially if you’re looking for a solution that helps you automate more of your day-to-day processes and offers HR and compliance support.
For this in-depth comparison, we researched the most popular employee management solutions on the market today and referenced dozens of real customer reviews on independent platforms like G2 and Capterra in May of 2023. In our breakdown, we get into key features, pros and cons, pricing, and user ratings so you don’t have to comb through endless testimonials before landing on the right option for your business.
What is 7shifts and what is it used for?
7shifts is a team management solution designed for businesses in the restaurant and beverage industries. Employers and managers can use it to hire and onboard for restaurant-specific roles as well as schedule employees, track time, and communicate with their staff. Team members can use the 7shifts mobile app to access their schedules and punch in and out for work, which saves managers and staff members time every shift.
Among its other functions, 7shifts’ tip handling features make it a good fit for restaurant and cafe workers. Tip pooling and distribution can get complicated, but 7shifts automates that for users and lets managers send tips through the tip payouts tool. That way, employees can access cash before payday.
Why might you choose a 7shifts alternative?
7shifts may have been designed with restaurants in mind, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most logical option for your tip-based business. Here’s why:
7shifts can be pricey
While 7shifts offers a free plan for a single location, their paid plans aren’t cheap compared to other staff management software. What’s more, the additional tools that come with more expensive advanced plans are geared specifically toward restaurants. With that in mind, the hospitality-specific functionality may not be worthwhile for other kinds of small businesses.
7shifts doesn’t offer specialized HR and compliance support
With complex restaurant labor laws and regulations to follow, restaurant owners and managers need HR help as much as any other business owner. It’s true that 7shifts offers built-in, configurable tools to avoid unnecessary overtime and missed breaks. But it doesn’t give you access to on-call HR experts who can review your policies and procedures and answer all of your questions.
7shifts is restaurant-specific
7shifts tools like time tracking, scheduling, and tip management make a lot of sense for restaurants, cafes, and other tip-based industries. But small business owners who don’t manage a bar or restaurant or employ tip-earning staff members may find this redundant. Instead, they may wish they had in-depth HR and compliance tools, which offer more administrative support and allow you to manage your team in accordance with federal regulations.
And, while 7shifts offers tip payouts, it doesn’t offer early pay access for employees. This makes it less convenient for wage-earning team members who run into financial emergencies or cash flow issues.
Key features to look for in a 7shifts alternative
Transitioning to new software can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to know what features you should prioritize to reduce the learning curve and make the switch worth your time and money.
- All-in-one small business solution — Software that offers one or two industry-specific features may be useful for a while. But as your business and team management needs change and grow, you’ll need to add more solutions to your toolkit — which can get expensive. Instead, opt for a comprehensive, all-in-one option that’s built to meet a wide range of staff management demands and scale with you as you expand.
- User-friendliness — It’s helpful when the platform of your choice has a similar design and layout to your previous option so team members can adjust quickly, but usability is more important if you want to avoid switching solutions again in the future. Ideally, it shouldn’t take longer than a week for your entire team to get comfortable with a new team management system.
- Customer support — The right solution should come with a customer service team that responds within 24 hours and is available via phone, email, or chat, especially during the first weeks of adopting a new system.
- Integrations — Your point-of-sale (POS), accounting, and e-commerce software are central to your business, helping you drive steady revenue. Make sure your new platform integrates smoothly and shares data with these tools to save you time and keep your records accurate.
- Affordable plans — Per-user plans are ideal for small teams, but we don’t recommend them to small business owners who plan to expand. It’s best to stick with a per-location pricing model, which means your costs only increase when you add new stores or shop fronts, not new employees.
The breakdown: 6 top 7shifts alternatives
To help you zero in on the solution that’s right for you, we arranged our list based on the best use case for each software:
- Homebase: Best all-in-one solution
- HotSchedules (powered by Fourth): Best for employee feedback
- Sling: Best for time zone differences
- When I Work: Best for multiple admins
- Workforce.com: Best for facial recognition
- Push: Best for AI automated workflows
1. Homebase: Best all-in-one solution
Homebase is the perfect team management solution for small business owners who want to spend less time filling out paperwork or studying compliance. Our platform simplifies everyday tasks like time tracking, scheduling, communication, hiring and onboarding, and payroll. This wide range of features frees business owners and managers to focus on what they do best, growing their brands and business.
What makes it truly all-in-one, though, are its advanced HR features. With a Homebase account, you can get in touch with a live HR expert who will answer all your burning questions about regulations and compliance. For example, Homebase will help you stay on top of ever-changing local and federal regulations, such as laws on tip-splitting or employment terminations. We’ll even create an employee handbook for you — just book a 30-minute chat with us and we’ll send you a state-specific, customized handbook within three to five business days.
- Time tracking with built-in GPS and geofencing tools to prevent time theft
- A time clock that automatically converts hours into timesheets with wage and overtime data
- An easy employee scheduling tool that auto-populates timetables every week with shifts to save you time
- Simple shift-swapping features that limit extra work for managers
- Full-service payroll software that files and pays your payroll taxes
- Team communication feature you can use to send messages to individuals, groups, or the entire team
- Hiring and onboarding tools with job description templates and document storage tools
- HR and compliance functions that make it quick and easy to create policies and procedures and centralize staff information in one place
- Sales forecasting tools that help you build schedules that won’t exceed your labor targets
- Early wage access lets employees withdraw up to $400 of earnings ahead of payday
- A mobile app that empowers employees with access to their latest schedule, hours, and pay stubs
Pros and cons
👍 Free plan offers scheduling and time tracking for 20 employees
👍 Only takes a few minutes to set up
👍 Easy shift-swapping makes it ideal for managers and employees alike
👍 Per-location pricing for better affordability
👍 User-friendly platform
👍 Built-in payroll reduces the need for additional software
👎 No mileage tracking or task management tools
👎 Cannot view multiple work locations at the same time
Homebase’s scheduling and timesheet tool is completely free. But you want to make managing your hourly team even more efficient, we offer the following packages:
- Basic — Free for one location and up to 20 employees. It includes basic scheduling and time tracking, employee management tools like Messaging, point-of-sale integrations, and access to email support.
- Essentials — $24.95 per month per location. Everything in Basic, plus payroll integrations, team communication, performance tracking, advanced time tracking and scheduling, and access to live support.
- Plus — $59.95 per month per location. Everything in Essentials, plus hiring tools, retention and performance tracking, time off controls, and departments and permissions.
- All-in-one — $99.95 per month per location. Everything in Plus, with HR and compliance, new hire onboarding, labor cost controls, and business insights.
Users can also save 20% on their overall cost when they sign up for an annual plan.
2. HotSchedules (powered by Fourth): Best for employee feedback
HotSchedules, recently merged with Fourth, combines scheduling, time tracking, tip handling, and inventory management tools, making it ideal for service-related businesses. To help teams understand what happened during a shift, HotSchedules offers a survey so employees can leave in-depth feedback on issues like whether staffing levels were sufficient or if there were any issues between team members.
- Surveys for team members to concerns at the end of a shift
- Team scheduling with built-in AI forecasting tools
- Time clock with geofencing functions
- Earned wage access feature lets employees withdraw up to 50% of their paycheck
- Built-in payroll tools
- Access to HR specialists
- Talent recruitment software
- Inventory management features
Pros and cons
👍 Tip management and payout tools make it ideal for the restaurant and hospitality industries
👍 Useful team member scheduling features
👍 User-friendly design
👎 No communication or chat features
👎 Difficult to set up
HotSchedules pricing isn’t readily available.
3. Sling: Best for time zone differences
Sling is a scheduling platform that also incorporates time tracking, task management, messaging, and reporting features to help managers save time and keep team members on the same page. For small businesses operating in multiple time zones, it also gives managers the ability to schedule and track shifts in everyone’s local time.
With its employee document storage, overtime alerts, and break management features, business owners can also use it to optimize previously inadequate compliance processes.
- Drag and drop employee scheduling that’s easy to update and share
- Time clock that’s accessible from any device
- Team announcements and messaging
- Task management tools that let you assign jobs when scheduling employees
- Labor costing tools that alert you when you’re about to go over budget
Pros and cons
👍 Free version with plenty of useful features
👍 Schedule builder automatically plugs in repeated shifts for time-efficient scheduling
👍 Excellent for team messaging
👎 Per-user pricing makes it more expensive as you hire more staff
👎 No free time tracking tools
👎 No payroll
Sling’s free plan comes with shift scheduling, time off management, and team announcements. Its paid plans include:
- Premium — Mobile time tracking, labor costing, and team messaging for $2 per person per month.
- Business — Kiosk time clock, reporting, sick leave, and PTO management for $4 per person per month.
4. When I Work: Best for multiple admins
When I Work’s straightforward platform allows small business owners to schedule, track time, and communicate with their team members. The tool gives you three admins, which means you can share scheduling duties easily with other managers. This also makes it more likely that someone will see an urgent message about a shift request, for example, and respond quickly.
Its simple design makes it ideal for business owners who are new to managing these everyday tasks with online tools. Like Homebase, it also makes filling and trading shifts easier, and it integrates with popular solutions for payroll, POS, and business management.
- Multiple admins mean you can share scheduling with other supervisors and managers
- Simple-to-use schedule builder with trade swapping and task management tools
- Time clock that’s accessible from any device
- Break and time off management
- Team announcement and private messaging features
- Labor costing tools to help you make better staffing and scheduling decisions
Pros and cons
👍 User-friendly, accessible design
👍 Copy-and-paste schedule builder makes team scheduling efficient
👍 Mobile app is helpful for spread out teams
👎 Per-user pricing is less cost-effective than per-location platforms
👎 Doesn’t support a wide range of integrations
When I Work offers two price options:
- Standard — Basic time tracking, scheduling, and team messaging for $4 per user per month.
- Advanced — Dynamic scheduling and time tracking for $8 per user per month.
5. Workforce.com: Best for facial recognition
Workforce.com is a multi-feature human resource information system (HRIS) that can help managers schedule, track time, and pay their employees. Its facial recognition tool analyzes team member photographs and creates a personal identifier based on their facial geometry. In states where this is permitted, this is a useful tool for personnel timekeeping.
While designed for hourly teams, it’s a more appropriate choice for mid-to-large-sized businesses that have more in-depth sales and labor forecasting demands. Additionally, Workforce.com lets managers run performance reviews and engagement surveys to help boost staff retention.
- Drag-and-drop scheduling and auto-scheduling based on predicted sales
- Time tracking from any device
- Geofencing, facial recognition, and photo identification to prevent time theft
- Performance management and employee engagement features to increase retention
- Payroll software with an employee self-service portal
Pros and cons
👍 Lets you auto-build shifts based on labor forecasting
👍 Responsive customer support team
👍 Ideal for large and mid-sized companies
👎 Some features aren’t user-friendly
👎 User data is currently limited
Workforce.com’s pricing isn’t readily available.
6. Push: Best for AI automated workflows
Like 7shifts, Push is a workforce management solution used by large franchises in the restaurant industry. The AI integrated into the tool helps your management team streamline workflows, automate processes, and gather employee data.
Business owners may also want to give Push a try if they’re looking for customizable time theft prevention tools like photo clock-ins and pre-shift screening questions.
- AI tools for automating processes and collecting employee information
- Schedule builder that syncs with labor costing tools
- Time tracker with customizable time theft prevention features
- Integrated full-service payroll
- Built-in hiring and applicant tracking system (ATS)
Pros and cons
👍 Intuitive and easy to use
👍 Ideal for businesses that need more secure clock-ins
👎 No free plan
👎 Per-user pricing not ideal for large teams
Push’s price options include:
- Starter — Basic scheduling and time tracking for $5 per user per month.
- Pro — In-depth scheduling, time tracking, health surveys, and integrations for $6 per user per month.
- Premium — Everything in Pro, plus break and leave management for $10 per user per month.
Get A-to-Z team management with Homebase
7shifts may be well-known in the restaurant industry, but that doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to a restaurant-specific platform that cuts into your budget and doesn’t help you think about the bigger picture.
Consider your options: If you have a larger budget and need in-depth labor forecasting, you may decide it’s time to opt for a platform like Workforce.com that auto-populates schedules based on sales and demand. Or you may choose a solution like When I Work for its simple design.
But if you’re ready for team management software that’s truly all-in-one, we’re confident Homebase is the best choice for you. On top of its time tracking, scheduling, team messaging, and payroll tools, Homebase prioritizes HR and compliance so you and your team can stay on the right side of regulations and ahead of the curve.