GE Financial Assurance (GEFA), a subsidiary of the General Electric Company, is a consumer insurance and investment business helping 25 million people in 17 countries build financial security. There are over 17,000 Associates worldwide in the GEFA division. The previous structure of the company's incentive program limited recognition to top management. GEFA wanted to reach deeper into its organization to recognize Associates who typically did not have the opportunity to participate in an incentive program. GEFA managers wanted a program that offered solid motivation, with an attainable reward, for employees who were successful in achieving and maintaining core values. Affording individuals the chance to excel would be the underlying criteria for this program. To accomplish these goals, the Platinum Award travel incentive program was created. The title of the program reinforced the high value GEFA management placed on this employee recognition initiative. It was agreed that Platinum Award destinations should also reinforce the GEFA core values. Switzerland, offering a scenic, culturally diverse, friendly, and safe environment, was selected as the first Platinum destination. One of Switzerland's major industries, fine watch making, also reinforced the GEFA mission to deliver flawless products and timeless perfection. To earn the chance to attend the Platinum Award trip, Associates received criteria and a nomination form, via internal weekly electronic communications. They accessed the forms through electronic posting, nominating each other based on excellence in several categories relating to the company's core values.
* Customer Focus
* Driving "e": Participation in electronic modes of doing business
* Focusing on People
To reinforce the importance of the program and its high-level impact, nominations were forwarded directly to human resources and decisions were made by senior management. In keeping with its "Digitization" efforts, regular updates and the final announcements of the first individuals to achieve Platinum Award were delivered electronically. GEFA President Michael Fraizer sent personalized e-mails addressing winning Associates by name and discussing relevant criteria. Switzerland was revealed as the desination, and vital information was communicated via the registration Web site. The congratulatory message from the President included a hyperlink to review Platinum Award trip details and online program registration. The e-mails, combined with personal congratulations from the Associate's direct manager, communicated a strong message about the program's importance, its ability to bring Associates to the attention of high-level management, and the respect of GEFA toward its winners and participants.