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What is Organizational Citizenship?

organizational citizenship

When employees work at a job, they know that certain behaviors are expected of them. Virtually all workers will perform the duties assigned to them in a way that is acceptable to management and beneficial to the organization. They will also avoid behavior that is detrimental. When employees go above and beyond what is expected of them, that behavior is called organizational citizenship.

Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) is not essential to the job, yet it can provide benefits for coworkers and the company as a whole through better efficiency. Individuals who engage in this behavior do all they can to help their work environment run smoothly. Individuals who engage in this behavior generally exhibit the principles of altruism, courtesy, and conscientiousness.

Organizational citizenship is an employee’s willingness to go above and beyond in the workplace by performing positive actions that benefit their coworkers and the business even though they are not included in the basic job description. Organizational citizenship is demonstrated largely by several behaviors in the workplace and can go a long way towards improving productivity and morale while creating an overall positive work environment. Employees who exhibit the five key behaviors of organizational citizenship are extremely valuable to the workplace, motivating their team members and enhancing job performance.

Advantages of Organizational Citizenship

I/O at Work cited a study of employees who engaged in citizenship behavior at work that indicated employees who engage in more OCB during the day felt their work was more meaningful. Engaging in OCB allows workers to have more control over the situation while also helping others. Experiencing more meaningfulness at work also makes employees more vigorous. Engaging in organizational citizenship also helps those whose roles in an organization may be ambiguous as it helps them finding meaning in what they do.

Types of Organizational Citizenship Behavior

importance of organizational leadership

Status.net recognizes five common types of behaviors that manifest as organizational citizenship. These are altruism, courtesy, sportsmanship, conscientiousness and civic virtue.

  • Altruism occurs when a person decides to help another without expecting anything in return
  • When a worker is polite or considerate with those he or she works with, it exhibits courtesy. Examples include helping a fellow employee with a project or keeping personal noise levels low
  • Sportsmanship happens when a worker decides to remain cheerful even in the face of adverse decisions or frustrating circumstances
  • Coming in early to work, staying late and doing more than one’s fair share is a sign of conscientiousness
  • When employees represent their company in a good way, both on and off the job, it’s an example of civic virtue

Best Practices of Organizational Citizenship

employers are always looking for workers who exhibit these qualities to join their business operations. At the same time, it also benefits managers already within the organization to encourage their employees to exhibit the characteristics of OCB. By setting a good example, leaders within companies can show employees the types of behavior that are positive and fruitful. Encouraging teamwork can have a positive effect on collaboration and will help achieve stated goals and objectives. Any statement of company values should somehow incorporate the five components of OCB to encourage a healthy corporate culture. What makes OCBs valuable to any organization is that they should occur naturally. Employees should never be forced but should have the freedom to be altruistic.

The Role of Altruism

Altruism is an important factor of organizational citizenship, as it is characteristic of one’s ability and willingness to go above and beyond to help others out of their own selflessness. Altruism can be exhibited in many ways, most of which are very beneficial to the workplace as a whole.

Demonstrating altruism may include helping coworkers with their responsibilities, showing appreciation for coworkers in the workplace and volunteering to complete extra helpful tasks around the office. An employee who demonstrates altruism is a positive influence on their coworkers and employer, increasing productivity and even boosting the morale of the workplace as a whole.

Demonstrating Courtesy

Courtesy is demonstrated by employees who go above and beyond to create a kind and respectful work environment. Courtesy also plays a large role in the morale of the workplace as it is an important factor in the strength of team relationships. Courteous coworkers ensure that they keep a respectable workspace that is not bothersome to others, take an interest in the well-being of their coworkers and maintain a team-first mindset. Both employers and fellow employees benefit from working around courteous individuals as they make the workplace a more enjoyable space to be, and they are able to develop a positive relationship with others.

The Importance of Sportsmanship

sportsmanship in organizational leadership

Employees that are capable of handling adversity and remaining flexible and optimistic in their response to challenges that arise demonstrate strong sportsmanship. These employees improve the workplace with their willingness to adapt by keeping a positive attitude and motivating others to overcome challenges as well. Demonstrating sportsmanship may look like taking on extra work during a time where staff members are out or working hard to meet a deadline that is moved to an earlier time. An employee who maintains a positive mindset despite challenges sets a strong example for the entire workplace and boosts productivity for everyone.

Exhibiting Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is exhibited by employees who have strong self-control and self-discipline. These employees are willing to go beyond the basic requirements of the job description. Conscientious employees are able to plan ahead and complete extra work before weekends or vacations as well as stay later to ensure that all tasks are completed before a big deadline.

Employers are able to trust conscientious employees to complete their work regardless of challenges and work hours. These employees are self-motivated to do what is necessary, making them reliable and more productive. Conscientious employees make the workplace better by taking stress away from their managers and coworkers since everyone knows they will complete their necessary tasks.

Demonstrating Civic Virtue

The ideal employee is one who represents the organization in a positive light at all times, whether they are “on the clock” or not. An employee who supports their company when they are not at work is one who speaks of the business in a positive light during daily conversation and demonstrates pride in where they work.

Acts that demonstrate civic virtue also include engaging in company events like fundraisers or charity events with other coworkers. Civic virtue also encourages a more positive work environment and better work performance by creating a sense of community and collective goals.

How Can Employers Foster Organizational Citizenship Behavior in the Workplace?

The biggest takeaway of organizational citizenship behavior is that it is voluntary and carried out by the individual. The voluntary factor is what makes the behaviors so valuable, meaning that it is hard to duplicate these behaviors naturally since requiring employees to carry them out would make the behaviors less powerful. An employee who chooses to act a certain way will always do better than one who is forced to. There are multiple ways that an employer can improve the chances of having an employee that is willing to go above and beyond while demonstrating organizational citizenship behaviors.

Including Encouragement in the Hiring Process

Throughout the process of selecting employees, you can take several precautions to highlight the values and behaviors that are important to you. One of the ways to do so is by providing an in-depth job description that focuses on the company’s values and vision. An employee that chooses to apply for a role because they agree with your values is more likely to carry out the behaviors that will follow those values without being asked.

An additional option for finding the right employees is simply being selective. Many employers use an assessment tool that can measure an individual’s personality and likely behaviors. This is a great way to narrow down applicants toward someone who would likely be a strong fit for your business. You can continue to be mindfully selective onto the interview phase by preparing situational questions that test how an individual would respond to various occurrences once hired. The hiring manager should also ensure they highlight how organizational citizenship behaviors occur in the workplace already. Taking these steps will allow everyone to be closer to having aligned visions even before hiring.

Maintaining Strong Management

As with any profession or activity, leading by example plays an important and necessary role in fostering organizational citizenship behaviors. A good manager who carries out these behaviors on a regular basis has a strong likelihood of inspiring their employees to also carry out these behaviors.

As touched on, good managers will also find various ways to highlight their employees who already exhibit the five key behaviors. Everyone responds to different recognition, like words of affirmation of tangible rewards, so a manager should know their team and know what motivates them or makes them feel valued.

Recognition should occur both individually and company-wide. It is a great idea to praise an employee personally, but it helps to recognize their impact in front of others at a team meeting as well. A manager should praise their employees themselves, but they should also create a space or avenue for their employees to recognize each other as well, either through email or during designated meeting time.

Factoring Organizational Citizenship Into a Job Performance

One of the options that an employer has for improving organizational citizenship behaviors is factoring them into an employee’s regular performance evaluation. Some employers choose to include these behaviors into an employee’s goals and objectives or add criteria for factors like sportsmanship into the evaluation process. Additionally, some employers choose to avoid adding these behaviors into the evaluation process and instead consider them as “extra credit,” providing employees the opportunity to receive higher than the overall score. There is no set “correct” way to include these behaviors into the evaluation process, and everyone may achieve different results.

There are potential positives and negatives of including the five behaviors in a job evaluation. On the one hand, it can highlight for employees what these behaviors look like and provide extrinsic motivation for exhibiting them, encouraging them to do so. On the other hand, it can take away the voluntary component of organizational citizenship behaviors and end up causing stress to employees who feel they “have to” go above and beyond, even if they do not have the capacity to do so. Ultimately this decision comes down to understanding your employees and their motivations.

How is Organizational Citizenship Behavior Encouraged in Individuals?

company leadership

Because organizational citizenship is demonstrated voluntarily by individuals, they are the key consideration when determining how to foster these behaviors in the workplace. It is important to understand an employee’s personal situation and how it factors into their capability to demonstrate these behaviors. For example, an individual with family or professional commitments outside the workplace will likely not be able to attend events outside the workplace, and it would not be a realistic expectation that they do. However, they can still be motivated to demonstrate other behaviors like courtesy and sportsmanship. It is important to understand where an employer can have an impact.

Employee morale is also extremely important in continued organizational citizenship behavior and can be influenced by the employer. If an employee loses motivation, then the behaviors will be wasted. It is important that managers play a role in recognizing the value of these behaviors and exhibiting positive encouragement so that their employees maintain them. Employers and managers can help boost morale by recognizing employees for their behaviors, demonstrating appreciation and highlighting their worth.

The biggest waste of potential is to allow an employee to feel that they are exhibiting these behaviors for no reason. It is important to ensure that these employees feel valued and are recognized for their extra contributions to the workplace. This recognition will also set a strong example for other individuals who may not yet exhibit these behaviors.

Conclusion

Organizational citizenship behaviors are immeasurable but extremely valuable in a workplace. Employees who exhibit the main behaviors are able to go above and beyond their job description to make the workplace better. An organization can play a strong role in fostering the behaviors by creating the proper space for them. By creating a positive and motivating work environment, an organization can make employees more likely to demonstrate positivity and motivation on their own. Working to create this environment while hiring and developing employees who carry out the five behaviors of organizational citizenship will have an invaluable impact on the morale and productivity of the workplace. Organizational citizenship is a set of individual behaviors that occur in a group setting. These behaviors do not include a formal reward system but produce an increase in productivity and effectiveness, which ultimately result in rewards that cannot be quantitatively measured.

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