The best workforce management software for small businesses

Last updated on 
April 20, 2021

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If you run a small business, you’re probably all-too-aware of how complex and time-consuming managing your workforce can be. From recruiting and training to tracking employee performance and improving communication, there’s much to cover – and if you don’t have an HR team, these tasks can sometimes seem overwhelming. That’s why workforce management software solutions have boomed in recent years – but not every small business can afford a major new tech purchase.

Thankfully, small businesses can gain visibility over their teams without the price tag, feature set or clumsiness of heavy-weight enterprise solutions. While everyone can benefit from software that helps centralize workflows and boost productivity, small businesses need to be scrupulous about the job they’re actually hiring software for. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best workforce management software currently available for small businesses.

What do you need from workforce management software?

Workforce management (WFM) software is a very large umbrella term for an often sprawling feature set. Depending on the needs of your business, WFM tools can support a remarkable range of functions, including:

  • Time and attendance: Tracking work hours isn’t just a way to record all billable and non-billable work for invoicing; it also shines a light on employee workload, overtime and capacity, allowing leaders to manage their teams more effectively.


  • Employee productivity: Workforce management software helps businesses understand employee efficiency and engagement levels, allowing them to pinpoint what drives productivity and what hinders it, as well as understand how individual employees work.


  • Scheduling: Being able to schedule effectively hinges on being aware of factors like vacation time, availability, workload and absences. Workforce management software can automate staffing based on these variables and ensure companies are never understaffed.


  • Forecasting and budgeting: In order to forecast efficiently, you need to know how many resources are available for certain projects and at certain times – and WFM software gives you all this knowledge, as well as insight into how much budget you’ll need.


  • Vacation/leave planning: You can use WFM tools to automate employee vacation requests and approvals, cutting out the back and forth and helping employees feel more autonomous. You can also use the data provided to manage and track leave balances, accrued time, absences, and any schedule conflicts.

Workforce management software for small businesses

When assessing which WFM tools might be right for your business, it’s key to consider that you don’t need to find an all-in-one solution. Flexible tools that do a few essential competencies well, rather than trying to solve everything in one package, often tend to provide a better user experience and ROI. Plus, many small businesses simply don’t need to be lumbered with a cumbersome WFM package that provides bloated features at inflated price tags. To that end, here are five of the best workforce management tools for small businesses – and the specific functions they excel at.

1. Timely – best for managing team time

For managing team time and plans, Timely is unrivalled. It provides all the tools you need to ensure employees have a manageable workload and feel visible and supported, and it also allows you to effortlessly maximize team resources. By automatically tracking all employee hours, you can gain a completely accurate record of all employee work hours, overtime, capacity and workload to ensure everyone has a healthy work/life balance and work is evenly distributed. Plus, Timely also provides a bird’s-eye-view of all activity across your company, helping you manage priorities, visualize plans, proactively monitor profitability and allocate resources intelligently.

2. 15Five – best for exploring team sentiment

To harness your company's greatest asset – its people – and to boost productivity and engagement, there’s 15Five. 15Five enables you to continually track employee engagement, whether that’s by sending out regular pulse surveys or quarterly reviews, and helps you understand what drives motivation and performance. By gaining visibility into your workforce in this way, you’re not only able to generate high levels of performance; you’re also able to discover any issues or problems you may otherwise have missed, and address them before they cause unnecessary challenges.

3. Bonusly – best for gamifying engagement

If you’re hoping to incentivize employees, foster collaboration and reward people for good work, you can’t beat Bonusly. This tool encourages team members to give each other praise using a points system, which motivates people to celebrate wins and helps you to build stronger working teams. Peer-to-peer recognition has been shown to play a significant role in improving engagement and productivity, as well as general happiness at work, and by recognizing people’s efforts, Bonusly helps you create a greater sense of belonging within your workforce.

4. Connecteam – best for knowledge sharing

For communication and training, there’s Connecteam, which is a simple, customizable, and scalable tool that makes it easy to manage your employees from one place. Designed with communication in mind, Connecteam offers multiple tools that enhance team connectivity – from live chat group conversations to directories for all work contacts and employee feedback surveys. Plus, you can use Connecteam to enhance your team’s professional skills too, as employees will gain access to training materials, online libraries, professional courses and quizzes.

5. Paychex  – best all-rounder

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive WFM solution, you might want to consider Paychex, which is one of the most popular WFM tools with small- to medium-sized businesses. From hiring and onboarding to scheduling employees, simplifying payroll and offering benefits, Paychex does it all; you can even use it to sort insurance and marketing. But of course, the cost of all these features is the downside, and Paychex isn’t cheap. However, if you’re looking for a WFM tool that does absolutely everything, it may still provide good ROI.

Keep your team ticking

Timely automatically tracks team hours,
activity and capacity to keep remote work visible.
Lead happier, healthier teams.

Book a demo

Keep your team ticking

Timely automatically tracks team hours, activity
and capacity to keep everyone connected.
Lead happier, healthier teams.

Book a demo

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