Recognition and Reward

The University is committed to recognizing employees’ contributions and rewarding them through merit pay for performance. Managers base annual merit compensation decisions on the performance management cycle of goal setting, mid-year review, and year-end performance assessment. The cycle’s framework is designed to create a shared understanding of expectations and performance. For both the manager and the employee, the year-end assessment is a summary of the year’s coaching and feedback conversations and should never be a surprise.

Each July, managers meet with employees to review the manager’s assessment rating and merit compensation.

Tools and Resources

Yale encourages managers to consider low-cost or nonmonetary forms of recognition to show employees that they are valued and appreciated despite the current salary freeze. Consider the following ways you can show recognition:

  • Ensure that employees are aware of employee development programs and allow employees time to take advantage of Signature and WorkLife programs.
  • Give verbal recognition in a public setting such as during a team meeting.
  • Thank employees with a card or note (including higher levels of leadership).
  • Host virtual activities or events that are just for fun, such as simple games or times for employees to socialize while still in the work setting.
  • Celebrate milestone events (both for the department and individual employees) such as birthdays, work anniversaries, and major project completions.
  • Allow individuals to have more input in the projects they work on, either by allowing them to pick their next project or allowing them to hand off their least favorite project. 

Human Resources determines guidelines for merit increases each year, based on available funds, rating levels and the position in range of the current salary. Managers make recommendations for merit increases based on the overall performance rating they have assigned and applying the Classification and Compensation department guidelines.


  • Performance assessments are evaluated and approved by the manager’s manager before being shared with the employee.
  • This review keeps the leader informed on individual contributions and helps balance rating across the department and minimize distortion in rating.

Once approved, the manager delivers and discusses the performance assessment, performance rating, and merit recommendation. This is an important and often challenging dialogue between an employee and manager. Tools are available on the Learn and Grow website to help managers prepare on this conversation.

This may also be the time that new objectives and goals for the coming year begin to be discussed and plans formulate on how to prepare for the next fiscal year’s cycle.