Organizational Wellness

Unlock Employee Engagement and Productivity with Organizational Citizenship Behavior

May 15, 2023
Last Updated Jun 4, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) is when employees go above and beyond their basic job duties to help their coworkers and support the organization.

  • There are 5 dimensions of OCB: altruism, conscientiousness, sportsmanship, courtesy, and civic virtue, each contributing uniquely to a positive workplace culture.

  • OCB improves employee relations, engagement, and retention for HR leaders, offers personal growth and job satisfaction for employees, and boosts productivity and positive culture for organizations

  • OCB can be assessed using self-reports, peer evaluations, and 360-degree feedback, focusing on specific helpful behaviors.

  • HR leaders can encourage OCB by leading by example, recognizing and rewarding positive behaviors, promoting a supportive environment, and providing training and open communication channels.

For HR leaders, boosting employee engagement and productivity often feels like solving a complex puzzle. It involves a mix of strategies and initiatives, and one crucial piece of that puzzle is cultivating organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). 

Promoting OCB in your workplace can lead to higher engagement and productivity. It also sets the stage for a thriving workplace. Here’s how understanding and championing organizational citizenship behavior can unlock your team’s full potential. 


What is Organizational Citizenship Behavior?

Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) is when employees go above and beyond their basic job duties to help their coworkers and support the organization. These actions are voluntary and aren’t typically recognized by formal reward systems, yet they play a crucial role in fostering a positive and productive workplace.

OCB can include a range of helpful actions like assisting coworkers with their tasks, suggesting organizational improvements, and maintaining a positive attitude during tough times. These behaviors contribute to a cooperative work environment, help boost team morale, and boost overall effectiveness. OCB is about taking initiative and showing dedication — both of which are essential for a high-performing team

Imagine a marketing team racing against time to launch a new campaign for a product launch. A graphic designer, whose main job is creating visuals, notices the team is behind on content due to an unexpected shortage of writers. Even though writing isn't part of their job description, the designer steps in to write copy for a few emails. 

This voluntary act helps the team meet the deadline and demonstrates a commitment to the team’s overall success, showing a prime example of OCB. 

The 5 Dimensions of OCB

Within the framework of organizational citizen behavior, there are five main types of behavior that employees may display — altruism, conscientiousness, sportsmanship, courtesy, and civic virtue.   

  1. Altruism: Employees who selflessly provide help to others without expecting any recognition in return exhibit altruism. These employees lend a hand without expecting anything in return. This could be as simple as offering to stay late to help a colleague complete a project or taking over a task for a coworker who could use the assistance during a busy week.  
  2. Conscientiousness: Conscientious employees regularly go above and beyond the minimum requirements of their job and consistently deliver high-quality work. These employees often diligently plan their day to enhance productivity and efficiency. Conscientious employees are also considerate of their coworkers, their time, and their space. They show up on time to meetings, stick to their deadlines, and try not to let work pile up for their colleagues.   
  3. Sportsmanship: Sportsmanship is all about maintaining a positive attitude, even in the face of frustrating or challenging situations. Employees who exhibit sportsmanship understand the true value of being a team player. These employees will respond with grace if they receive unexpected feedback or a last-minute request to change a project before a deadline.   
  4. Courtesy: Being courteous is about more than just manners — it’s about respect for your colleagues and their work. Employees who demonstrate courtesy are considerate of others, listen intently during conversations, and show genuine interest when asking about a teammate's weekend or vacation.  
  5. Civic Virtue: This type of OCB involves looking for ways to act selflessly and speak positively on the organization's behalf. These employees take a genuine interest in the organizations wellbeing by participating in meetings, staying informed about company policies, and contributing to organizational development initiatives. They also tend to represent the company well when they're out in the community, acting as an unofficial but genuine ambassador for your employer brand.   

Benefits of OCB in Your Workplace   

Embracing and promoting organizational citizenship behavior in your workplace offers substantial benefits for HR leaders, employees, and the organization as a whole.  

For HR Leaders

  1. Improved Employee Relations: OCB helps in building stronger relationships among employees, which can lead to a more harmonious work environment. This makes conflict resolution easier and more effective because employees are more likely to approach issues with a cooperative mindset. 
  2. Enhanced Recruitment and Retention: OCB helps achieve key HR metrics such as talent acquisition and retention. When a workplace culture embraces OCB, it becomes more attractive to potential hires. Employees are also more likely to stay with an organization where they feel supported and valued, which reduces turnover rates
  3. Increased Employee Engagement: Employees who engage in OCB often feel more connected to their work and their colleagues. This engagement translates into higher productivity and job satisfaction, making it easier for HR leaders to achieve organizational goals. 

For Employees

  1. Professional Development: Engaging in OCB allows employees to develop new skills and competencies. For example, helping a coworker with a project can enhance one's problem-solving and collaborative abilities, contributing to personal and professional growth.   
  2. Job Satisfaction: Employees who go above and beyond their job requirements often experience a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. This positive feedback loop encourages them to continue displaying OCB, further enhancing their job satisfaction. 
  3. Enhanced wellbeing: It’s no secret that job satisfaction and wellbeing are closely linked. Research shows that organizational citizenship behaviors can actually enrich and reinvigorate employees who engage them, likely by giving them a sense of purpose and meaning at work. And when employees feel energized instead of stressed at work, it helps support overall wellness

For Organizations

  1. Enhanced Productivity: Organizations that foster OCB benefit from increased productivity. Employees who help each other and take initiative contribute to a more efficient and effective workplace, driving overall performance improvements.   
  2. Positive Work Culture: OCB helps in building a positive organizational culture where employees feel valued and motivated. This culture not only improves employee morale but also makes the organization a more attractive place to work, aiding in talent acquisition.  
  3. Increased Loyalty: A study in Nigeria found that organizational citizenship behavior is tied to higher employee loyalty — which isn't surprising, since people like working in places where they have good relationships with helpful, conscientious coworkers. Employees who demonstrate OCB might develop a stronger connection to their work and feel like an integral part of the organization.   

How to Measure and Evaluate OCB in Your Organization

Measuring organizational citizenship behavior can be challenging due to its inherently subjective nature. Unlike traditional performance metrics, OCB involves voluntary behaviors that aren't always easy to quantify. However, there are effective tools and approaches that HR leaders can use to assess OCB.

  • Define OCB for your organization: Start by defining what specific behaviors constitute OCB in your organization. A few examples you may want to consider include:
    • Helping colleagues: Assisting coworkers with their tasks, offering support during busy periods, or covering for them when they are absent.
    • Showing initiative: Voluntarily taking on additional responsibilities, suggesting improvements, or proactively solving problems without being asked.
    •  Positive attitude: Maintaining a cheerful and optimistic attitude–even during challenging times–and encouraging others to stay motivated. 
    • Civic virtue: Actively participating in organizational activities, attending meetings, staying informed about company policies, and contributing to larger company initiatives.
  • Choose a measurement tool: Next, choose a tool to help you measure OCB, such as an employee survey, peer evaluation, or 360 review. Use these tools to create surveys or evaluation forms tailed to your defined OCB criteria. For example, you may ask about specific behaviors using these sample questions:
    • “How often does this employee help others with their tasks?” (Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Always)   
    • “How often does this employee maintain a positive and constructive attitude, even in challenging situations?” (Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Always)
    • “To what extent does this employee take initiative in suggesting improvements or solving problems without being asked?” (Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Always)
  • Gather data and implement improvement plans:  Finally, analyze the data to identify patterns and trends. Look for areas where OCB is strong and areas that may need improvement. Then, develop and implement strategies to enhance OCB. This could involve training programs, team-building activities, or implementing an employee recognition program to support and encourage OCB.    

How to Foster OCB in Your Organization

Creating a culture that encourages organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) requires intentional strategies from HR leaders. Here are a few actionable steps you may want to consider to help foster OCB in your workplace:

  1. Lead by Example

HR leaders and managers should model OCB behaviors. When leaders consistently demonstrate leadership competencies such as helpfulness, initiative, and a positive attitude, employees are more likely to emulate these behaviors.

  1. Recognize and Reward OCB

Implement a system to recognize and reward employees who go above and beyond their job descriptions. This could be through formal awards, shout-outs in meetings, or other unique employee recognition ideas. Recognition reinforces the value of OCB and motivates others to follow suit.

  1. Promote a Supportive Work Environment

Encourage a workplace culture where employees feel supported and valued. Provide the resources and support they need to perform their tasks efficiently. When employees feel their efforts are appreciated, they are more likely to engage in OCB.

  1. Provide Training and Development

Offer training programs that emphasize the importance of teamwork, collaboration, and proactive problem-solving. Workshops on communication skills, conflict resolution, and leadership can empower employees to exhibit OCB.

  1. Encourage Feedback and Open Communication

Create channels for open communication and feedback. Encourage employees to share their ideas and concerns in regular feedback surveys. A culture of transparency and trust makes employees more willing to go the extra mile for their colleagues and the organization.

  1. Build Strong Team Dynamics

Foster strong team dynamics through team-building activities and collaborative projects. When employees develop strong bonds with their coworkers, they are more likely to engage in helpful and supportive behaviors.

  1. Align OCB with Organizational Goals

Clearly communicate how OCB aligns with the organization’s goals and values. When employees understand the bigger picture and see how their actions contribute to organizational success, they are more motivated to engage in OCB.

OCB in Action

While most of us would love to be surrounded by coworkers who are respectful, empathetic, and willing to lend a hand, OCB is not the only thing that we look for in our work environments. Different people value different qualities in a company’s culture. But, generally, employees thrive in places that are free of harassment, stress, and burnout, where feedback is valued and they feel psychologically safe.

In fact, 87% of employees surveyed in our State of Work-Life Wellness Report would consider leaving a company that didn’t focus on their wellbeing. As an HR leader, you can help create a positive and supportive workplace for your team by demonstrating organizational citizenship behavior is valued at the highest levels of your company.

One way to do this is by offering a wellness offering at your company. A wellness program can help employees access resources and support depending on their individual health and fitness needs, whether it’s a gym membership, meditation class, personal trainer, or nutrition training.   

Learn more about crafting a wellness offering that contributes to a positive work environment by speaking with one of our Wellbeing Specialists today!

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!




Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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