Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Benefits and Best Practices

Definition of Organizational Citizenship Behavior

Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) pertains to the behaviors and actions of employees that exceed the formal requirements of their job descriptions and promote the efficient operation of the organization. Examples of OCB include assisting coworkers, taking on extra tasks voluntarily, proposing solutions to organizational issues, and displaying politeness towards customers.

Even though employees are required to carry out their job duties, engaging in OCB displays a willingness to go above and beyond and aid in the overall achievement of the organization. This kind of behavior has advantages for both the employee and the organization by boosting employee morale, job performance, and productivity.

In general, managers and business leaders regard organizational citizenship behavior as favorable because it can facilitate the smooth operation of the organization. Studies indicate that the main components of OCB are altruism, courtesy, and conscientiousness and that the duration of the organization’s existence may influence the extent to which employees engage in OCB.

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Characteristics of Organizational Citizenship Behaviors

Research has revealed distinct features of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), the primary ones being altruism, conscientiousness, and courtesy.


Altruism is the act of providing assistance to others without anticipating any form of compensation. This conduct encompasses an individual volunteering their assistance to a fellow worker or colleague, even when the job is not directly connected to their job duties.


Conscientiousness refers to possessing a deep sense of accountability and drive, as well as displaying traits of dependability and self-control. Individuals who demonstrate conscientiousness are generally well-organized and focused on achieving their objectives, which frequently leads them to engage in organizational citizenship behavior by voluntarily assuming extra assignments and responsibilities.


Courtesy relates to conduct that displays deference and thoughtfulness towards others, such as demonstrating politeness and consideration to coworkers, customers, and suppliers. This form of behavior fosters a positive organizational culture and supports the development of constructive relationships among colleagues.

Instances of such conduct may comprise an employee arriving early to complete a project, aiding a coworker with an assignment, or displaying attentiveness towards their colleagues’ needs and concerns. By exhibiting these qualities of organizational citizenship behavior, employees can create a favorable effect on the workplace and make a positive contribution to the organization’s overall success.

Dimensions of organizational citizenship behavior

Scholars Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Paine, and Bachrach identified seven dimensions of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) in their study:

  1. Loyalty: Employees’ allegiance, trust, and dedication to their organization, resulting in a sense of solidarity among them.
  2. Initiative: Independently taking action to benefit the organization, such as taking risks, being innovative, and utilizing personal resources and abilities. Additionally, it includes offering constructive feedback and suggestions proactively.
  3. Sportsmanship: Upholding a positive and supportive attitude, taking accountability for one’s errors, and maintaining an optimistic outlook during difficult times. Being encouraging and helpful to others, even when things do not go as planned, is also a part of this dimension.
  4. Civic Virtue: Actively contributing to the well-being and success of the organization, including volunteering for additional tasks when necessary. This type of conduct fosters a sense of community and strong relationships among coworkers.
  5. Prosocial Behavior: Helping others with job-related problems, showing characteristics such as altruism, courtesy, cheerleading, peacemaking, interpersonal helping, and facilitation.
  6. Self-Development: Being accountable for one’s own growth and development by engaging in activities such as personal goal-setting, reflective learning, and skill development.
  7. Organizational Compliance: Striving to adhere to the company’s values, norms, regulations, and rules.

Examples of Organizational Citizenship Behaviors

Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) encompasses employees’ voluntary and discretionary efforts to exceed their work obligations and improve their organization. Below are some instances of OCB:

Attending optional training

When employees attend training sessions or workshops beyond their regular work hours, they demonstrate organizational citizenship behavior by enhancing their expertise and competencies, which can benefit the organization.

Being a mentor

Organizational citizenship behavior is exemplified when employees act as mentors to assist in the training and development of new colleagues. By sharing their knowledge and offering guidance, they can promote team cohesiveness and contribute to the organization’s achievement.

Cleaning up

Employees who voluntarily clean up shared areas of the workplace, even if it’s not their job, are demonstrating organizational citizenship behavior. By taking responsibility for the cleanliness and tidiness of the workplace, they can improve the overall atmosphere and create a more pleasant environment for their colleagues.

Donating to charity

Employees who participate in charity events or donate to charitable causes sponsored by the organization are engaging in organizational citizenship behavior. By supporting the community and promoting the organization’s values, they can enhance the organization’s reputation and build stronger relationships with stakeholders.

Engaging in teamwork

Organizational citizenship behavior can also include employees who contribute to charitable causes or participate in charity events sponsored by their organization. This behavior can help promote the organization’s values and strengthen its reputation, as well as foster positive relationships with stakeholders.

Following safety procedures

When employees work closely and cooperate with their coworkers, even beyond their job requirements, they are demonstrating organizational citizenship behavior. This behavior promotes a positive and supportive workplace culture, which can lead to better team morale and productivity.

Giving feedback

When employees offer constructive feedback to their colleagues or supervisors, they demonstrate organizational citizenship behavior. This behavior assists others in improving their job performance and contributes to the organization’s continuous improvement efforts, ultimately leading to increased success.

Helping with projects

When employees volunteer to aid with tasks or projects that fall outside of their regular duties, they are demonstrating organizational citizenship behavior. This willingness to assist shows flexibility and a desire to contribute to the organization’s success.

Initiating change

When employees take the initiative to propose or carry out modifications that enhance systems or processes, they are displaying organizational citizenship behavior. Through being proactive and seeking out opportunities for improvement, they can contribute to the organization’s productivity and effectiveness.

Joining committees

Organizational citizenship behavior is demonstrated by employees who voluntarily join committees or task forces to participate in specific initiatives or projects, offering their time and expertise to help the organization achieve its strategic objectives.

Benefits of Organizational Citizenship Behavior

Organizational citizenship behavior is defined as discretionary behavior that is not part of an employee’s formal job requirements but contributes to the effective functioning of an organization. Examples of OCB include helping coworkers with their work, volunteering for extra duties, and engaging in constructive communication with others in the workplace.

There are several benefits of organizational citizenship behavior that can positively impact both employees and the organization as a whole.

  1. Increased Productivity: Employees who engage in organizational citizenship behavior are more likely to be productive and efficient in their work. By helping others and taking on extra duties, they are able to better manage their time and resources, resulting in higher output and better job performance.

  2. Improved Employee Retention: Organizations that encourage and value OCB are more likely to retain their employees. When employees feel that they are part of a community and are making a positive impact, they are more likely to feel a sense of loyalty and organizational commitment to the organization.

  3. Enhanced Job Satisfaction: Organizational citizenship behavior can lead to greater job satisfaction for employees. When employees are able to engage in activities that are meaningful to them and contribute to the success of the organization, they are more likely to feel satisfied with their work.

  4. Improved Organizational Culture: Organizations that foster a culture of OCB tend to have a more positive and supportive environment. When employees feel valued and appreciated for their contributions, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated in their work.

  5. Increased Innovation: Employees who engage in organizational citizenship behavior are often more willing to take risks and try new things. By volunteering for new projects and taking on extra duties, they are able to develop new skills and expand their knowledge, which can lead to increased innovation and creativity within the organization.

  6. Enhanced Reputation: Organizations that are known for encouraging and valuing organizational citizenship behavior can develop a positive reputation both within the industry and in the community. This can help to attract new talent and customers, as well as improve relationships with other organizations and stakeholders.

Factors Influencing Organizational Citizenship Behavior

Organizational Citizenship Behavior is influenced by various factors, including personal, social, and organizational.

personal, social, organigation factors of Organizational Citizenship Behavior

Personal factors, such as personality traits, work values, and job satisfaction, can impact an individual’s willingness to exhibit Organizational Citizenship Behavior. Employees who possess positive personality traits, such as agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness, are more likely to engage in OCBs. Similarly, employees who highly value their work and feel satisfied with their jobs are more likely to exhibit OCBs.

Social factors, including organizational culture, leader behavior, and coworker relationships, also play a critical role in influencing organizational Citizenship Behavior. A positive organizational culture that values and rewards OCBs can encourage employees to exhibit these behaviors. Additionally, leaders who demonstrate OCBs and provide support and resources for these behaviors can positively influence employees. Coworker relationships also impact organizational behavior as employees who have positive relationships with their colleagues are more likely to exhibit these behaviors.

Organizational factors, such as job design and job characteristics, can also promote Organizational Citizenship Behavior. Employees who feel that their work is meaningful and challenging are more likely to exhibit OCBs. Additionally, job characteristics, such as autonomy and job security, can impact an employee’s willingness to exhibit OCBs. Finally, the perceived fairness of the reward and recognition systems within the organization can also impact OCBs. Employees who feel that they are fairly rewarded and recognized for their efforts are more likely to exhibit organizational behavior.

Strategies for Encouraging Organizational Citizenship Behavior

Encouraging Organizational Citizenship Behavior is crucial for leaders, who seek employees that exhibit these principles. Managers and leaders can facilitate the development of these behaviors to enhance organizational culture and employee engagement.

organizational citizenship behavior

Set an Example of organizational citizenship

Leaders should demonstrate the desired behaviors that they want employees to exhibit. The culture of an organization is set from the top, so if employees observe leaders being thoughtful, providing assistance when possible, participating in non-work-related activities, and contributing to charity events sponsored by the organization, it creates a model for workers to follow when engaging in Organizational Citizenship Behaviors.

Encourage Teamwork

Fostering teamwork is essential in encouraging Organizational Citizenship Behaviors. These behaviors have been known to strengthen co-worker relationships and social bonds. By establishing a culture of collaboration and cooperation early on, employees will understand the importance of supporting their colleagues. Leaders can encourage this mindset by explaining goals and objectives in a way that emphasizes looking out for the team, which can lead to the development of qualities like altruism and courtesy.

Connect the Qualities of Organizational Citizenship Behaviors with Company Goals

To promote a culture of Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (OCBs), it’s essential to align the principles of altruism, courtesy, conscientiousness, sportsmanship, and civic action with the goals and values of the company. This alignment doesn’t require exact naming or direct reference but should be integrated into all messaging that relates to the company’s objectives. By doing so, a culture that values OCBs can be fostered.

Avoid Over-Regulation

There is a debate on whether Organizational Citizenship Behaviors should be regulated or seen as a job responsibility. Nevertheless, the reason they are highly valued by leaders is that the frequency of OCBs that workers exhibit can indicate their level of productivity and engagement. Imposing regulations could detract from the voluntary nature of OCBs, which reflects an individual’s choice. Employees must have the liberty to decide if they want to be altruistic, courteous, conscientious, sportsmanlike, or engage in civic action when the opportunity arises.

Challenges to Organizational Behavior

Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) can bring many benefits to a company, including improved productivity, increased engagement, and reduced turnover. However, there are also several challenges to encouraging and maintaining OCB in the workplace.

One of the primary challenges is that organizational citizenship is voluntary and not a formal requirement of an employee’s job description. Employees may not see the benefits of engaging in OCB, or they may not feel that it is valued or recognized by their organization. Additionally, some employees may not have the resources or capacity to engage in OCB, especially if they are already overworked or dealing with personal challenges.

Another challenge to promoting organizational citizenship is the potential for negative consequences when employees engage in these behaviors. For example, employees who consistently go above and beyond their job duties may face burnout or resentment from colleagues who feel they are not doing enough. Additionally, employees who engage in OCB may be perceived as “suck-ups” or “brown-nosers” and may face negative social repercussions.

A lack of leadership support can also hinder the development of organizational citizenship in the workplace. Managers who do not model or value OCB may send the message that these behaviors are not important or necessary. Furthermore, a culture of competition or individualism may discourage employees from engaging in OCB, as they may fear that their colleagues will take advantage of their willingness to help.

To address these challenges and encourage OCB in the workplace, there are several strategies that HR managers can employ. First and foremost, leadership must be committed to promoting and recognizing OCB. This can be done by integrating OCB into job performance evaluations, offering rewards or recognition programs for employees who engage in OCB, and actively modeling these behaviors themselves.

Another strategy is to communicate the importance of OCB and the benefits it can bring to the organization. HR managers can provide training and development opportunities that help employees understand the role OCB plays in creating a positive workplace culture and achieving organizational goals.

It is also important to create a supportive environment that values and encourages organizational citizenship. This can be achieved by establishing clear expectations and goals for OCB, providing necessary resources and support for employees to engage in OCB, and promoting a culture of teamwork and collaboration.

Finally, HR managers can work to address any negative consequences of OCB by monitoring employee workload and stress levels, providing opportunities for employees to give and receive feedback, and promoting a positive social environment that values and rewards OCB.

Wrapping up

Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) is a voluntary action by employees to exceed formal job requirements and contribute to the overall effectiveness of the organization. While OCB is not explicitly outlined in formal job descriptions, it is still an important aspect of job performance and can have a positive impact on organizational commitment.

However, promoting OCB can be challenging without a formal reward system in place. Human Resource Management can play an important role in promoting OCB by establishing a positive organizational culture that emphasizes task performance and organizational support. Leaders can also set an example for employees by exhibiting OCB themselves.

Encouraging OCB can have a positive impact on overall organizational performance and foster a positive relationship between employees and the organization. While challenges may arise in promoting OCB, it is an important aspect of job performance that can benefit both employees and the organization as a whole.

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