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November 01, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Meet the start-up giving workers power through anonymity

5S Technology is a fully remote company that’s created software for employees of large companies to anonymously voice concerns to upper management without fear of retaliation.

When Jason Simon retired from a 20-year career flying F/A-18s for the U.S. Navy, he knew one thing for certain: he wanted to relocate his family from the deserts of California to the mountains of East Tennessee.

“The move across the country actually happened first. I came out for an internship with a company in the Knoxville area,” he said.

The internship didn’t transition into a position, but his family loved the area and knew this was going to be home.

“We fell in love with the people and with the culture in the area. Everything about it screamed this was the place for us,” said Simon. “So we ended up landing here and then through some serendipitous phone calls, I had a conversation with the founder of this company.”

By “this company,” Simon is referring to 5S Technology, a fully remote company that’s created software for employees of large companies to anonymously voice concerns to upper management without fear of retaliation. He now serves as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). It’s not a role he expected to land fresh out of the military, but one he said his decades of service did prepare him for.

“Running the operations of a military squadron is not something that there’s a school for. You learn by watching others and then executing. When you do that, you quickly learn how to identify people who are doing it the right way and people who aren’t,” said Simon. “You genuinely start understanding what leadership is about. And leadership isn’t about being the person who knows everything. It’s not about being the smartest person in the room. It’s about being able to identify who the smartest person in the room is, pulling that person over to you and saying, ‘Okay, what do you recommend we do here?’”

Jason Simon. Courtesy: LinkedIn.

It’s that willingness to lead and learn that landed Simon the job of CEO for a small but quickly growing company.

5S Technology offers a desktop and mobile app for employees to anonymously report the good, the bad, and the could-be-better goings on of everyday work life.

“We’re looking to bridge the gap and create a better work environment by fostering trust between frontline workers and executives,” said Simon. “We recognize there is a gap that has been growing for a long time. Our application fosters that trust because it enables a frontline worker to anonymously communicate with the executive to say, ‘Here are the problems that we’re seeing.’”

They do that through the powers of anonymity and accessible data. Workers are protected to share their thoughts anonymously through a message board for all employees and executives to see, or through a one-on-one connection to specific departments in the company. Employees can upvote or downvote other posts on the “Bulletin Board” in the app, though there won’t be a traditional “like count” for everyone to see when they vote, so people don’t like something because they feel the need to side with others.

For the executives, Simon said the comments are turned into data points that are analyzed against the company’s internal operations data and developed into analytics that are presented directly to executive teams.  Executives can more rapidly identify trends needing attention and visually see where pain and growth points are within their workforce. And unlike free online company review sites like Indeed or Glassdoor, 5S Technology is all internal for the organization using it and verifies that only current employees have access to post and read comments.

An example of the app working well can be seen in 5S Technology’s client, the Delta Airlines pilots’ union, which it’s been working with for 18 months.

“Our product has been wildly successful with them,” said Simon. “It has given pilots a voice. When there are contract issues, they can bring those issues to the company for resolution via the union. We’ve been very successful in recovering pay for pilots and helping improve their quality of life.”

As a retired Navy pilot, Simon can offer some expertise to that particular client, along with all the app provides. He said 5S Technology is working to grow within the transportation sector but sees it benefitting any large company with multiple locations and levels of management.

“In the accommodation space, in the retail space, anywhere where you have somebody who is the final touch point for the product or the customer. That’s where we see ourselves,” said Simon.

5S Technology is only a three-year-old company and is currently seeking a capital raise to scale larger. The fully remote team is small but mighty, with Simon at the helm in Knoxville.

“Action-oriented listening is what we’re trying to promote,” he said. You can learn more or get in contact with the team here.

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