In a 2014 survey, Deloitte found that 78 percent of business leaders believe that employee engagement and retention are “urgent or important.” It should be no surprise that the majority of business leaders feel this way: last year, a Gallup study revealed that 70 percent of U.S. workers are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.” Gallup went on to say that disengaged employees cost the American economy between $450 billion and $550 billion per year. Globally, Gallup found that only 13 percent of workers were engaged with their jobs.

“[Employee disengagement] impacts the global economy,” says Brady Bruner, co-founder and CEO of RevolutionHR, a firm that aims to help companies increase employee engagement through consulting and a software-as-a-service arm. “We want to be a catalyst in taking employee engagement from one of the worst stats to one of the top drivers of economic growth globally.”

In an effort to be that catalyst, RevolutionHR is releasing a new career app this fall, MaximusLife, which will use wearable technology, gamification tactics, and a social-media aspect to drive employee engagement. In an effort to bring this new product directly to the employees RevolutionHR aims to help, the company is making a unique move: they’re raising funds on Indiegogo in what has been called “one of the first crowd sourced [sic] campaigns in the HR technology industry.”

“This is built for the people,” Bruner says of MaximusLife. “We wanted that to be a focus. The best way we could think to do that was to take it to the crowd and allow people to have some buy-in on the front end of it before we even get it launched.”

The campaign launched on June 20 and runs until August 19, with RevolutionHR looking to raise $55,000.

Better Things: Evolving Employee Engagement

Bruner, a consultant by trade with what he calls a “strong technology background,” says he founded RevolutionHR after repeatedly encountering huge technology gaps between the products his clients were using and the products that were available to consumers. “Big technology gaps continue regardless of the size of the company,” Bruner explains. “I as a practitioner kept seeing a need over and over.”

For example, Bruner says, “a lot of employees use word document resumés, but there’s an evolution going toward better and better things.”

While Bruner feels that large consulting houses and software providers “are really focused on a lot of things that are great and needed,” he says there are still technology gaps that he feels RevolutionHR needs to fill directly. “A big passion point for us is an issue that seems to only have gotten worse and not gone away: employee engagement,” he says.

Bruner says that RevolutionHR is launching MaximusLife directly at the problem of employee engagement. “It really empowers employees … to create their own storylines with their day-to-day work that they can present for the rest of their careers in a way that’s compelling to employers,” he says.

MaximusLife allows employees to create “digital career timelines” by completing goals, which the app refers to as “quests.” “So there’s a gamification piece to it,” Bruner explains. “As you tackle your quests, you build your digital career timeline, and in the process you’re also earning points.”

The point system is not the central focus of MaximusLife – “It’s not just a gamification system. It’s much more than that,” Bruner says – but the points serve as helpful motivators. Employees can redeem the points they earn for certain perks, which Bruner hopes will help keep employees focused on accomplishing goals.

Bruner compares MaximusLife’s digital career timeline to LinkedIn, in that both are employee-oriented platforms that people can use regardless of whether or not their companies adopt the systems for internal use. MaximusLife also “goes further” than LinkedIn, allowing people to track even quests that are unrelated to their jobs, such as training for a marathon. “The platform facilitates a visual process of tackling those goals,” Bruner says.

Bruner imagines employees using their digital career timelines as more technologically sophisticated versions of their resumés when they are hunting for new jobs or angling for promotions. “Or if they just really want to share with others and build relationships around their work,” Bruner adds. MaximusLife encourages relationship building by allowing users to choose “sponsors” for their quests.

“A digital career timeline is a big piece of Maximus that will, we hope, change not only the way that recruiting is done, but also the employee experience at work,” Bruner says.

Pioneers of Crowdfunded HR Tech

As one of the first crowdfunding bids in HR technology, the Indiegogo campaign is a bit of a risk for RevolutionHR, but Bruner recognizes and embraces this fact. “Being the pioneers in this, we’re taking the risk of it not taking off on crowdfunding,” he says, “but we want to be the ones to at least build out that model for others and give the people a voice in the process.”

Bruner places a strong emphasis on giving a voice to the people – the humans with whom human resources deals. Indeed, he and RevolutionHR have gone so far as to create a petition aimed at encouraging business leaders the world over to “end the workplace disengagement epidemic ([one] employee at a time).” One of the main reasons that RevolutionHR chose to crowdfund MaximusLife was “to let the people know we’re building it for them and not just corporate buyers,” Bruner says.

Bruner believes that crowdfunding will become more and more important to the HR technology industry as more companies orient their products toward employees instead of companies. “We see that HR technology is going to continue to move toward employee-focused tools, and I think crowdfunding will be a piece of that going forward,” he explains.

Bruner also notes that RevolutionHR is fighting “an uphill battle” with the MaximusLife campaign for two reasons. On the one hand, “HR folks really don’t know crowdfunding,” he says. Bruner also notes that many people in HR – just like many people in general – “don’t have a big knowledge of wearable technology … because the technology is so new.” Wearable technology plays an important role in RevolutionHR’s new product, as the MaximusLife app is designed to integrate with wearables to help people track their quests. RevolutionHR has partnered with Misfit Wearables for the launch, featuring the Shine Activity Tracker as a perk for some donors.

Despite the risks and challenges of being a pioneer in the HR crowdfunding space, Bruner is hopeful about the outcome. “The big picture for us is that we want to hit all of the correct pieces that drive human innovation,” he says. “That obviously is going to impact recruiting [and] impact engagement. It’s going to impact the overall work experience if we do this correctly.”

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