what is organizational citizenship behavior
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Organizational citizenship behavior simply speaks of the unnoticed and unrewarded things employees do that form a part of the "little drops of water that make the mighty ocean" in the workplace, not just the day-to-day tasks employees do following their job descriptions. 

In this blog article, we'll discuss the details of what organizational citizenship behavior is, the types, key elements, and benefits. As an employee, a manager, or a business owner, you'll want to sit tight as we take this journey together.

What is organizational citizenship behavior?

Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) refers to the different voluntary and, in most cases, unnoticed and unrewarded actions that members of a company or an organization take that are outside their job descriptions. 

They go beyond what they are paid for to partake in activities that ensure that the company's goals are met. 

These actions are not necessarily forced or demanded, but they will contribute to the effective running of the organization. 

Activities include volunteering to do additional tasks, helping coworkers, promoting a healthy work environment, supporting the organization's goals, etc.. are instances of members showing organizational citizenship behavior.

What are the Key Elements of Organizational Citizenship Behavior?

There are key elements that contribute positively to an organization's culture and effectiveness. Let's take a look at five of them:

1. Altruism

Altruism refers to the willingness to assist someone sincerely without expecting a reward.
According to Wayne Visser, a sustainability expert, "Altruism is the ultimate display of true human kindness. It comes without expectations or conditions, without judgment or bias."
Beyond the formal duties that are expected of employees of an organization, a true show of organizational citizenship behavior is in the things they could do without expecting any reward. 

When employees show acts of kindness to their coworkers and are willing to help each other and the organization in general, that's truly an altruistic effort. 

2. Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship speaks of "attitude." It describes the positive reactions that employees will give when they are in unfavorable situations. 

It is maintaining a positive attitude and behavior in the face of negative situations without complaining or making negative remarks. 

Although displaying sportsmanship may not be part of the job description of employees, it does have a great impact on their work environment. 
In the words of Lou Holtz, American football coach, "Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it." 
By showing sportsmanship towards their organization, employees can actively participate in achieving the goals of the organization.

3. Courtesy

This is a show of respect to one another within an organization—from executives to members of staff. 

Although being courteous may not be part of an employee's job description, it's an element of organizational citizenship behavior that makes the experience at the workplace better.

Courtesy is a behavior that everyone should have and show to others as humans, even in a work environment. 

Being courteous goes a long way toward showing the level of respect that exists in an organization and is an indicator of good citizenship behavior expressed by individuals in that organization.

4. Civic virtue

Civic virtue refers to employees' active involvement or participation in the various activities of an organization. 

By participating, they can actively contribute to the success and growth of the organization. They can volunteer for committees or improvement initiatives that have a direct impact on the success of the organization. 
As Maya Angelou, an American author and poet, rightly puts it, "I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back." 
She's making emphasis on the need for employees not to always be on the receiving end but also to be contributors to their organizations. 

When civic virtue influences how employees operate, their organizational goals will be achieved without hitches.

5. Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness involves employees who take it upon themselves to do their jobs beyond what's expected of them, showing how reliable they are. 

Such employees always believe in excellence, whether or not they'll be recognized. They take the initiative to make things happen, irrespective of their job description. 
As Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, points out, "There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened." 
Employees who are conscientious are part of the first category, and this accounts for positive citizenship behavior.

Types of Organizational Citizenship Behavior

There are different types of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), and these types are based on the nature and target of the behavior. Let's take a look at them:

1. OCB-O (OCB directed towards the organization)

This type of OCB is directed towards making the organization better. It involves different behaviors, like participating in meetings, volunteering for tasks, etc., that employees can show towards the success of their organization. 

This sums up the individual efforts or behaviors of employees in actively contributing to achieving company goals.

2. OCB-I (OCB directed towards individuals)

This refers to the different kinds of behavior that employees can show one another that'll be most beneficial to them. 

Activities like helping coworkers complete a task, filling in for an employee who is absent, etc. really show good organizational citizenship behavior. 

It reflects the behavior that's directed towards another person based on what that individual considers assistance.

3. OCB-A (OCB directed towards the environment)

Most times, it is not stated in an employee's job description that he or she should keep the environment clean through recycling and so on, but it's very important that an employee does that instead of being found on the other side, causing harm to the environment and to others as well. 

Every behavior that can be directed towards making the work environment safer, cleaner, and healthier for everyone is termed good organizational citizenship behavior. 

When organizations promote these behaviors, they'll not only positively influence their immediate work environment but others too.

4. OCB-C (OCB directed towards customers)

Businesses take seriously how their staff relate to their customers. They usually have this mantra of "customers are always right" or "customers first, always." 

This is very true, but beyond the company informing their employees about this mantra, employees who make it their mission to put customers first without any form of impulsion whatsoever will be most effective in their relations with customers. 

They act in ways that are most beneficial to their customers, like going the extra mile to meet customer needs, offering excellent customer service, resolving customer complaints as fast as possible, etc., all to make the customer journey more seamless.

Benefits of Organizational Citizenship Behavior

Organizations that promote citizenship behavior that's directed at internal and external targets have so much to gain. Some of the benefits include:

1. Improved employee relationship

An organization that promotes OCB among its employees will invariably improve the working relationship among them. 

When employees connect among themselves and with management members, there will be ease of communication, and this can lead to building trust, which is very important in achieving the best from them.

2. Increase in job satisfaction

Employees always seek satisfaction in the job they're doing. They can get satisfaction from their jobs when they feel like they are part of them. This is something that organizational citizenship behavior can give to employees. 

By participating in meetings and tasks and making an active contribution to the organization, employee input can be seen, and this, on most occasions, brings satisfaction to employees.

The more organizations promote OCB, the better the chances are that employees will gain satisfaction from their jobs.

3. Improved organizational performance

Any organization with effective employees eventually becomes an effective one. It is a cause-and-effect cycle. By promoting OCB, employees will be more open to working together as a team. 

By cooperating together, there will be an increase in productivity, innovation, creativity, efficiency, and effectiveness in the organization. 


Organizational citizenship behavior remains one of the active "ingredients" that spice up the work environment. Organizations can achieve so much by making it a part of their mode of operation. 

By promoting OCB, employees, managers, and supervisors alike can clearly communicate their ideas, build trust among themselves, and ultimately bring about the peak performance of the organization. 
Ominigbo Ovie Jeffery | Founder of Business Blommer

I am an individual who believes in finding solutions to problems rather than magnifying one. With my zest, I proffer solutions within and outside the business world through article writing and leadership. I believe in growth, and I'm convinced that if we all channel our efforts towards growth across all endeavours, we'll achieve great feats.

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