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CEO of major company draws praise for handwriting over 9,000 holiday cards a year for his employees


Francis Dean / Contributor

According to Business Insider, CEO Sheldon Yellen personally hand writes over 9,000 card a year for his employees — and according to him, all the hard work really pays off in the end.

Yellen is the CEO of BELFOR Holdings, a large company that aids in disaster relief efforts and in property restoration. They operate domestically as well as in many foreign countries.

According to Business Insider, Yellen has handwritten a holiday and birthday card to each and every single one of BELFOR's employees since 1985 — before he even became CEO. Today, he is estimated to write over 9,200 of these cards a year.

And it isn't just birthday and Christmas that provoke handwritten notes from Yellen — he is also scrupulous about anniversary cards, thank you cards, notes to employees who are sick, and many more. The project has become incredibly time consuming for Yellen, who brings large stacks of stationery and writing utensils everywhere he goes, including on planes.

In fact, the work has become so time consuming that Yellen told Business Insider that when his company acquires new business and new companies, he worries less about the company's financial figures than he does how many new Christmas cards he has to write.

Yellen takes the time to do this, even though it consumes hundreds of hours of his time, because he thinks generates a culture of compassion in his company.

Yellen told Business Insider, "When I learn of random acts of kindness being performed in the field, I take it upon myself to again, reach out in writing, and send a thank you card so that person can know they are appreciated and that their efforts don't go unnoticed."

Yellen began the gesture after he was hired by his brother-in-law, as a way to hopefully avoid hard feelings with people who might have felt that he was receiving preferential treatment. He hoped that the cards would encourage people to stop by his desk and say, "thank you," so that he could get to know them personally. But now, he believes that it has helped change the culture of the whole company, such that many of his managers have taken up also writing cards to their employees, customers, suppliers, and loved ones.

Yellen says that the time he spends writing Christmas cards to his employees generates the company a huge return on investment as well. Yellen told Business Insider, "When leaders forget about the human element, they're holding back their companies and limiting the success of others."

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