Birthdays in an office can be great, there’ll probably be a novelty cake and a couple cards passed round for everyone to sign.
The working day will pause for 10 minutes while everyone chows down on a cake shaped like a caterpillar, and who knows, maybe there’ll even be party hats if things get extra wild.
For big companies, companies who employ thousands and thousands of people for example, chances are there’ll be a few birthdays pretty much every day.
Though you might be forgiven for thinking, once it gets past a certain point, handling thousands of birthdays for your thousands of employees just becomes impossible, one CEO is making sure he continues to go the extra mile, hand-writing more than 9,000 birthday cards every year for his employees.
Sheldon Yellen, CEO of BELFOR Holdings, Inc., a disaster-relief and property restoration company, has been hand-writing birthday cards to everyone in his company since 1985, long before he was CEO, and he shows no sign of stopping. He currently writes 9,200 birthday cards each year, one for every employee.
Yellen told Business Insider:
There is an inside joke with acquisitions that I ask prior to closing: ‘How many more people [to write cards for]?’ – since I am constantly calculating that in my mind rather than ‘What is the EBITDA [earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization]?’
Yellen said he started sending cards out in 1985. It seems a few employees thought he was getting special treatment by his brother-in-law, who hired him in the firm, so Yellen started sending out birthday cards to everyone. He said: ‘And it worked. It got people talking, we started to communicate more, and I like to think it helped me earn respect within the company.’
Nowadays, Yellen often boards a flight with a suitcase full of stationery, making his way through the thousands of cards. And it’s not just birthdays either, the CEO also sends out thank you notes, anniversary cards, holiday cards, and sends cards to his employees when their kids are ill.
It’s also something that doesn’t have to cost a thing. 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.
It seems to be a positive practice in the workplace too, as many career experts believe the best managers are the ones giving out positive reinforcement to their workers.
When leaders forget about the human element, they’re holding back their companies and limiting the success of others Focusing only on profit and forgetting that a company’s most important asset is its people will ultimately stifle a company’s growth.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.