In these days of corporate greed and huge golden parachutes comes a story of a CEO giving back …

Yuan Yuanqing, chairman and chief executive officer of fast-growing Lenovo, has not forgotten his roots nor has he overlooked the efforts of the people who have helped make the company the world’s No. 2 PC maker.

Having started at the bottom in Lenovo’s food chain as a salesman peddling PCs across parts of China from his bicycle and risen to the company’s top position, Yang decided to share a $3 million bonus he received for Lenovo’s increasing success with junior-level employees.

After being paid the bonus last month, Yang decided to present what has been called a “Yuanqing special award” – a check worth on average about $300.

Zhang Jing, an operator in a call center, told Media in China that she was “surprised and happy” when she received an email about the award. The Chinese website said Yang wanted to recognize employees,  ”crediting the strength of the company’s business performance to workers on the production line.”

In other words, he’s living up to Lenovo’s marketing slogan of “For Those Who Do.”

One third of Lenovo’s 30,000 employees received the checks.

The rewards came just a year after Yang invested $404 million of his own money in buying Lenovo shares. ”While the transaction is a personal financial matter, I want to be very clear that my decision to make this investment is based on my strong belief in the company’s very bright future,” Yang said. 

Now he’s investing even more in his employees.

Ray Gorman, head of corporate communications, confirmed Yang’s “special awards” when contacted by WRAL News.He noted that U.S. workers at the Lenovo distribution center in the Triad were among the recipients.

Asked why Yang did it, Gorman replied simply: “To recognize the contributions of Lenovo employees.” Gorman also noted that other employees received bonuses directly due to Lenovo’s performance. 

“Lenovo employees are eligible for an annual bonus program based upon the Company’s performance, as well as their individual performance. With another record-setting year, those employees who were eligible, did receive a bonus,” he said.

Lenovo’s profits for the fiscal year ending in March soared more than 70 percent with overall revenues topping $30 billion with Yang leading the charge as Lenovo struck a major partnership in Japan and bought a company in Germany. Those deals coupled with a tidal wave of new products and more aggressive marketing in North America as well as in China have vaulted Lenovo into No. 2 spot in global PC sales – just behind HP.

Yang has worked at Lenovo since 1989 when it was called Legend. He took over as CEO in 2001, replacing Chairman and founder Liu Chuanzhi. Liu and Yang led Lenovo’s acquisition of IBM’s PC division in 2005. Promoted to chairman, he later returned to the CEO role in 2009 as Lenovo reorganized. When Liu retired as chairman last November, Yang assumed both roles. 

If Lenovo surpasses as HP and becomes No. 1 while at the same time growing revenues and profits in what is shaping up as a tough year for the PC industry, how might Yang reward the rank and file next year?

Yang has set a precedent that many employees hope he will repeat.

[LENOVO ARCHIVE: Check out six years of Lenovo stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]