APA Center for Organizational Excellence: National Winner

The Awards

Medium For-Profit Category

Replacements, Ltd.

A Company That Treasures Its Employees

North Carolina – As a retail company that specializes in “replacing the irreplaceable,” Replacements, Ltd. is the world’s largest supplier of old and new dinnerware. Connecting customers with the perfect piece of china, crystal, silver or collectible they are searching for requires a team of employees that is always up for a challenge.

Employee Involvement

Employee orientations that include one-on-one meetings with the company owner and president set the tone for open communication and appreciation of individualism. Quarterly meetings with senior staff provide a forum for financial, production and HR updates and, during semi-annual small-group meetings, the benefits manager formally addresses employee questions and suggestions.

Employee councils invite involvement company-wide. The Wellness Council plans lunchtime learning sessions on topics from identity theft to heart attack prevention and coordinates a company cookbook, as well as an annual wellness fair with more than 50 vendors. A Safety Council conducts safety inspections and hosts an annual safety theme contest and a Community Affairs Council identifies opportunities for the company to become actively involved in community projects.

Health and Safety

The Replacements, Ltd. table is set with a benefits package that exemplifies the care the company has for its employees. Benefits include comprehensive medical, dental and vision insurance for employees and their families, including same- and opposite-sex domestic partners. Free health risk assessments are popular with employees and a safety coordinator promotes safe work practices.

Replacements, Ltd. also has a team of on-site professionals dedicated to employee health, safety and well-being. An occupational health nurse provides sick and wellness care, injury treatment, health screenings and ergonomic assessments. As an especially welcoming place to work for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) employees, Replacements, Ltd. has an on-site counselor who is a LGBT ally available to all employees, free of charge. Those in need of mental health services can also access an external EAP or the Replacements’ Counseling Service, an internal program that includes evaluation, counseling and referrals for employees and their families.

Employee Growth and Development

Replacements, Ltd. promotes growth and development through a variety of programs, including financial assistance for education and computer purchases. Open to all employees, the Replacements, Ltd. Corporate University offers more than 80 courses, including stress management, emotional intelligence, diversity training and leadership.

More than 25 percent of employees speak a language other than English. To help these employees succeed, Replacements, Ltd. provides English as a Second Language classes on-site and even compensates employees for half of the time they participate. Executive coaching for senior staff, managers and supervisors is provided quarterly and all members of the leadership team participate in a three-day leadership seminar that focuses on company leadership models, self-awareness and the creation of a personal mission statement.

Work-Life Balance

Flexibility and support for meeting non-work demands abound at Replacements, Ltd., where schedules can be temporarily adjusted upon request. Easily accessible experts such as health professionals and insurance company and bank representatives help employees manage work and life demands. Although a company with a warehouse full of delicate china is one of the last places you would expect to have a bring-your-pet-to-work policy, Replacements, Ltd. keeps the fragile inventory well protected and allows Fido and Rover on-site to reduce employee stress levels.

Replacements, Ltd. understands the importance of family and helps employees stay involved in their children’s education by offering Parent Education Leave to attend school activities like luncheons, plays and parent/teacher conferences. The annual Bring Your Child to Work Day at Replacements, Ltd. is a fun-filled event with planned activities and a special lunch. Employees are also free to bring their children to work when necessary, for example during school closings.

Employee Recognition

Employee of the Month and Length of Service recognitions are commemorated with a personal plaque, picture with the CEO and a cash reward. Awards are also given for healthy living, employee suggestions, life events, retirement, citizenship and educational accomplishments. Catered company and departmental luncheons are held throughout the year to recognize teams for a job well done. Employees who work critical days during the busy season are presented with company gift cards to help with their holiday shopping.

Replacements, Ltd. recognizes employees for their work in the community through friendly competition and causes, including collecting stuffed animals for hospitalized children, holiday food drive, prom dress donation, military book drive and AIDS walks. Trophies, pictures, newsletter articles, personal thank-you notes and emails from the CEO and president flow freely in recognition of employees’ generosity and big hearts.

The Bottom Line

At Replacements, Ltd., financial indicators demonstrate how healthy workplace practices translate into business results. Sales grew from $150,000 in 1981 to more than $85 million in 2007. With turnover at a low 11.6 percent and an average tenure of longer than eight years, employees are more than just satisfied with their jobs. On employee surveys, nearly 90 percent report that their co-workers are friendly, 93 percent feel their jobs are important to the company and 91 percent report they care about the organization.

Replacements, Ltd.’s safety and wellness programs have positively affected financial performance and decreased workers compensation premiums. In 2006-2007, the company’s workers compensation incident rate decreased 23 percent and the severity rate decreased 39 percent. Not only have disease management and exercise programs decreased the number of employee doctor visits, hospitalizations and musculoskeletal disorders, but Replacements, Ltd.’s focus on health promotion and disease prevention has also changed lives. In one dramatic example, two managers were able to detect their cancers early enough to make a life-saving difference. Early detection is just among one of the many practices that Replacements, Ltd. has in place to protect their most precious valuables – their employees.

"This is not pie in the sky; this is about the bottom line. Building psychologically healthy workplaces isn't just the right thing to do, it's also the smart thing to do."

The Honorable Alexis M. Herman
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor