Justin Henshaw knows first hand the challenge of hiring and retaining employees.
The Golden Isles businessman owns 13 businesses and said he recognized "something is broken" when it comes to worker-employee relations. He said he struggled to communicate with younger workers in the workplace.
"I need them a heck of a lot more than they need me," he told an audience of more than 200 during the unveiling Thursday of his solution to workforce recruitment and retention.
The Gage app will enable employees and employers the opportunity to communicate with each other in a way that is designed to encourage positive growth in the workplace.
"It's not just about money. Money is not the problem," Henshaw said of what drives workplace satisfaction.
While employers cannot often control how much they pay workers, there are other ways to improve job satisfaction and encourage better workplace performance. The lack of an opportunity to advance a career is the No. 1 issue among workers.
"People want meaningful work," he said. "The workplace is people, not machines, not robots. People."
Employers want accountability from their workers and employees want transparency from their bosses, he said. And both sides need to communicate.
Gage is the first digital platform that employers can use to bridge the gap with their employees by adding accountability, transparency and communication to the workplace.
The plan is for Gage to establish a score for workers and bosses that measures how employable they are. If things go as planned, enough employers nationwide of all sizes will use the app to make it as universal as a credit score that can be taken from workplace to workplace.
Another feature of the score is it is confidential
"This is private," he said. "This will never be reported. You control who sees it and contributes to it."
Scores range from zero to 1,000. Everyone starts at 500, and "high fives," "nudges," evaluations, your job history and other aspects of job performance influence scores.
If someone does a good job, peers and supervisors can give each other high fives. These reinforce good behavior and move the needle up.
A nudge is not so much a reprimand as it is a reminder or suggestion and is intended to help an employee understand where they fall short and to improve.
The app also evaluates soft skills such as communication, leadership and the ability of being a team player.
Taylor Jones, CEO of Whiteboard, the company that helped Henshaw develop the Gage app, said it will help evaluate the overall health of a team and allow for comparisons that can be used to determine promotions.
Henshaw said all his employees have been using the app since March 1 and the feedback has been positive.
"The scores give them something to be proud of," he said. "It's a product of their work."
The app does not allow for favoritism by employers or their workers.
"We're excited about what the future holds," he said. "We don't want people to cheat or game the system. This is about empowering the workforce, the employees."
The plan is to roll out the app in January. There will be a cost to employers and it will be free for their employees.
Henshaw said the cost has not been set yet, but at the cost of $4,425 to hire a new worker, he expects employers will get a good return on their investments.