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CALS Bonus Policy

Guidelines for additional compensation

Additional compensation in the form of bonuses or lump sum payments (also called variable pay) is an effective tool to recognize and reward high performing faculty and staff, provide incentives to enhance productivity, and to retain top talent. Additional compensation in the form of increases to base pay outside the annual Salary Improvement Program (SIP) is another method to recognize and reward exceptional performance, professional development, or the addition of new responsibilities. Base pay increases are not covered in this document. These guidelines describe the following: qualifying events, eligibility, funding, recommendations for appropriate timing and payment amounts, and required documentation.

Qualifying events

Additional compensation can be used effectively in the following situations:

  • to recognize sustained outstanding performance,
  • to acknowledge an extraordinary accomplishment, successful completion of a project or other significant individual effort that results in a positive impact on a project, program or organization and its goals,
  • to recognize the independent acquisition of additional skills, education, or certification important to the position but above the minimum required, and
  • to retain top talent.


Any regular full- and part-time staff or faculty who meet or exceed expectations are eligible to receive additional compensation. Prior to a request to CALS HR for additional compensation, an annual “performance dialogue” should be on file. Temporary staff members may be considered for additional compensation in rare circumstances.


Funding for additional compensation typically comes from department, or program funds. If a particular funding source restricts the payment of additional compensation, please consult with your CALS-HR representative. With approval from CALS Administration, college funds may also be used for additional compensation when the impact of the contribution is college-wide.

Recommendations for the timing and amount of awards

  • To recognize sustained outstanding performance
    • Timing - Most often as part of the annual Salary Improvement Program or at the time of the annual performance dialogue
    • Amount - $1,000 to $5,000
    • Factors to consider
      • Base pay level and relationship to market indicators
      • Consistency of performance and its impact on the organization
      • Years of service
  • To acknowledge extraordinary accomplishment or individual effort
    • Timing - As close to the accomplishment/event as possible
    • Amount - $500 to $2500
    • Factors to consider
      • Scope of impact and its significance to the project, program or organization
      • Level of accomplishment beyond existing job expectations
  • To recognize the acquisition of additional skills, education, or certification relevant to an employee’s job and used to achieve program or organizational goals.
    • Timing - Close to the time when the skill is acquired or education completed
    • Amount - $500 to $1500 
    • Factors to consider
      • ​​​​​​​Alignment of additional skills to program mission
      • Level of skill/education acquired
      • Amount of individual effort above and beyond job expectations
  • To retain top talent
    • ​​​​​​​Timing - As needed
    • Amount - To be determined on a case-by-case basis

Note: It is strongly recommended that additional compensation not be delivered around the Winter Holiday, as such timing can lead to a sense of entitlement rather than reward.

Required documentation

Requests for additional compensation should be forwarded to your CALS-HR representative. In order to process requests in a timely manner, please include the following information:

  • The specifics of the accomplishment, effort, additional skill, education, or certification.
  • Impact of the accomplishment or effort on the project, program, unit, or college.
  • How the accomplishment or effort is beyond the scope of regular position responsibilities.
  • The date of the most recent performance dialogue.
  • Amount requested and source of funds.

Requests are reviewed by CALS HR to ensure consistency of logic and practice across departments and funding sources.