Have you ever come across an employee or a colleague who will always go that extra mile? The one person who goes above and beyond their responsibilities for their colleagues and the company. What they’re demonstrating here is called Organizational Citizenship Behaviour. Let’s take a closer look at what it means, its different types & best practices, and of course its benefits.
Organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) is a term that’s used to describe all the positive and constructive employee actions and behaviours that aren’t part of their formal job description. It captures all that employees do voluntarily and willingly to support their co-workers and that which benefits the organisation as a whole. OCB is not part of an employee’s contractual tasks and something that’s required from them on the job.
Organisational citizenship behaviour was first defined by Dennis Organ (Professor of Management at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, a member of the Academy of Management and the American Psychological Society) in 1988 as, “individual behaviour that is discretionary, not explicitly recognised by the formal reward system, and that in the aggregate promotes the effective functioning of the organisation.”
Types of Organizational Citizenship Behaviour
Organ identified five different types of Organizational Citizenship Behaviours, which are explained as follows:
Conscientiousness is defined as behaviour that involves a certain level of self-control and discipline that goes beyond the minimum requirements. You can spot these employees easily as they are the ones who show up on time and stick to deadlines, plan things well, and make sure the work is managed and delegated before they proceed on holiday. They are well organised, highly accountable, and have a sense of how their work impacts others. Their deliverables are consistent even when they do not have a manager to nudge them.
Courtesy is polite and considerate behaviour towards other people; in this case, their colleagues and team members. Examples of courtesy at work include greetings, asking how their holiday was, enquiring about their kids’ well-being, asking about the progress of a project they’re currently working on, etc. In essence, asking a question related to a (personal) subject that shows people you’ve listened to what they were saying.
Civic virtue is all about representing in good light the organisation one works for. For instance, how do they talk about the organisation to their friends and family? It is where the employees become brand ambassadors for the organisation they work with.
Civic virtue is also demonstrated by employees who actively engage in fundraisers, social events, and corporate social responsibility or even support initiatives for co-workers. It is this behaviour that creates a sense of community and camaraderie within the organisation.
Altruism in the workplace happens when an employee helps or assists another employee without expecting anything in return. A simple example of altruistic behaviour is when someone takes over (part of) a co-worker’s task who is over-swamped by work, or volunteering to help clean up space after an internal company event. Altruism boosts employee morale, productivity, and effectiveness at the workplace. This, in turn, leads to better job performance and higher job satisfaction.
Sportsmanship is about an employee’s ability to take losses in good stride. It’s about being able to deal with negative surprises or situations that don’t go as planned, and not demonstrate negative behaviour when such an incident arises.
An example of good sportsmanship is an employee who is temporarily taking over the tasks of a team member who has called off sick or while a staff is on maternity or paternity leave. While this considerably increases this employee’s workload, there is no complaints whatsoever, rather a sense of ‘taking one for the team’. (commonly used sports jargon)
Benefits of OCB
⦁ Boosts employee morale
⦁ Increases people’s levels of work meaningfulness
⦁ OCB positively affects employee productivity and performance
⦁ Creates better social interactions between employees
⦁ Reduces stress levels at work
⦁ Creates a sense of community among employees
⦁ Is favourable for the employer’s brand
On a final note
While organisational citizenship behaviour isn’t something every employee will engage in, it can have tremendous benefits for both the workforce and the organisation. It is certainly worth looking for ‘OCB potential’ in candidates during the hiring process, and actively involving managers in setting the right examples at the workplace. If this isn’t something that is already part of performance management at your workplace, it’s time to rethink and make Organisational Citizenship Behaviour an intrinsic part of your company culture.