From Good to Great: How Organisational Citizenship Behaviour Drives Success

It’s no secret that, before starting any job, each person is given a job description outlining the key responsibilities of the role. However, in many workplaces, it won’t take you too long to notice that there are certain employees who display that extra level of personal motivation and always seek opportunities to venture outside of their scope for the benefit of their co-workers and the success of the wider company.

By going above and beyond like this, these incredible individuals are unknowingly demonstrating something called Organisation Citizenship Behaviour (OCB), which has been known to propel success when harnessed in the right way. In today’s blog post, we’re going to delve into Organisation Citizenship Behaviour and what it actually means, its origins, its types, its advantages and how best to foster a culture of OCB in your workplace. Let’s get started!

What is Organisational Citizenship Behaviour?

Organisational Citizenship Behaviour (OCB) refers to an individual's voluntary dedication and contribution to an organisation that goes beyond the scope of their contractual obligations. It encompasses anything that an employee chooses to do of their own accord to help their colleagues and the company they work for.

Generally, Dennis Organ is considered to be the father of OCB and, in 1988, defined it as "individual behaviour that is discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognised by the formal reward system, and that in the aggregate promotes the effective functioning of the organisation". In addition to this, he also conducted rigorous studies into the concept and, as a result, was able to identify five common behaviours that, from his perspective, are at the heart of Organisational Citizenship.

Good managers don't set a goal to increase efficiency, but rather an implementation of business process improvements that result in higher efficiency as well.

Eraldo Banovac

What are the five key behaviours of Organisational Citizenship?

According to Organ, the five behaviours of Organisation Citizenship are the following:

- Altruism

- Courtesy

- Sportsmanship

- Conscientiousness

- Civic Virtue

In order to get a clear picture of what the above five behaviours really mean, let’s define them one-by-one:


Have you ever helped someone to finish up a task at work because you could see they were really pushed for time? Ever seen someone struggling to carry their heavy bags upstairs and offered to give them a hand? Both of these cases are perfect examples of altruistic behaviour.

By definition, altruism involves helping another person without the expectation of receiving any compensation or gratification in return for those efforts. For an act to be considered altruistic, it must be done without the expectation of reciprocity, however, due to the contagious nature of this type of behaviour, it can often inspire others to show the same level of kindness and selflessness.


Courtesy in the workplace refers to displaying politeness, respect, and consideration towards the people you work with. This includes using polite language, showing appreciation, being attentive during discussions, and treating everyone with dignity, regardless of their position or role within the organisation.

Even small gestures like greeting the team as you enter the office in the morning or keeping the noise down when a colleague is trying to concentrate can contribute towards a much better overall atmosphere for everyone.


Similar to the principles observed in sports, at work, sportsmanship involves maintaining a positive attitude, embracing challenges, and collaborating effectively, even in competitive or challenging situations.

Sometimes things can be frustrating and not every decision will go your way, but it’s important not to react negatively in the face of such circumstances.


Conscientiousness in the workplace is about being diligent, attentive, and dependable in fulfilling tasks. It means striving for quality, being organised, and consistently delivering results, even if it does occasionally involve coming into work early or leaving late.

Conscientious individuals go the extra mile and have the discipline and self-control to get the job done without being monitored or needing a gentle push from a manager.

Civic Virtue

Last but not least, civic virtue refers to demonstrating a strong sense of ethical responsibility, integrity, and active engagement in positively representing the company you work for, both inside and outside of the office.

This can involve everything from the way in which you speak about the company to friends and family to the fundraisers and charitable events you choose to participate in. Even if you’re not in an official capacity, to show civic virtue, you still need to ensure that your actions reflect well on the organisation.

What are the advantages of Organisational Citizenship Behaviour?

OCB has multiple known advantages, which is why many employers strive to introduce more and more of it into the workplace in order to effectively drive success amongst employees.

In more detail, some of these advantages include:

  • Boosting Employee Morale: When employees engage in OCB by going above and beyond their formal responsibilities, it fosters a sense of accomplishment and pride.
  • Increasing Work Meaningfulness: OCB allows employees to see the direct impact of their actions on their colleagues and the organisation's success.
  • Enhancing Employee Performance and Productivity: Research consistently shows a positive link between OCB and job performance. Employees who engage in OCB tend to demonstrate higher levels of commitment, dedication, and willingness to invest extra effort.
  • Improving Social Interactions: OCB involves acts of kindness, support, and cooperation among colleagues. These positive interactions foster a healthier work environment, reduce conflicts, and contribute to better teamwork.
  • Reducing Stress: Engaging in OCB can help alleviate workplace stress. When employees experience a sense of fulfilment from helping others, it counterbalances the stressors of their own tasks.
  • Creating a Sense of Community: OCB promotes a spirit of unity and camaraderie among employees. By helping one another, employees form stronger connections and develop a shared sense of purpose.
  • Enhancing Employer Brand: A workplace that values and rewards actions beyond job descriptions reflects a positive and supportive culture. This reputation can attract top talent and contribute to a strong employer brand.

Organisational Citizenship Behaviour brings forth an array of positive outcomes that extend beyond individual performance. By nurturing a culture that encourages such behaviours, organisations can cultivate a more engaged, productive, and harmonious workplace environment.

What are some ways to encourage Organisational Citizenship Behaviour in the workplace?

Organisational Citizenship Behaviour is powerful because it's voluntary, which is why these genuine actions are quite hard to replicate. However, there are some strategies employers can use in order to foster a culture within which employees willingly seek to exceed expectations and display OCB. Let’s explore them!

Choosing the right candidates

During the employee selection phase, HR can emphasise existing company values through job descriptions and use stages like realistic previews, assessments, and interviews to gauge a candidate’s alignment with Organisational Citizenship Behaviour. This proactive approach ensures that the successful candidate already naturally exhibits the desired behaviours and, as a result, will fit right in!

As far as tools go, Listen Léon offers an assessment solution that delivers comprehensive outcomes, applying a culture match percentage to candidates, both within their prospective team and across the entire organisation. The results page also contains an intricate breakdown of candidates' strengths, areas for growth, and behavioural traits. This empowers organisations to make informed decisions and select candidates who exhibit the most pronounced organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB).

Effective Management

Just like in any field, leading by example is crucial for nurturing OCB. A capable manager who consistently showcases these behaviours will, more often than not, inspire their team to follow suit.

In addition to this, effective managers also find diverse ways to praise employees embodying OCB. Individual and company-wide recognition, both personal and in team settings, helps foster a culture of appreciation and motivation.

As a manager, you can never underestimate just how far a quick compliment can go towards an employee’s confidence and drive!

Performance Reviews

It’s possible to incorporate OCB into performance reviews by transforming the behaviours into goals, criteria, or even viewing them as "extra credit" for higher scores. This is often seen as a way to measure and reward OCB in a more formal manner.

However, including the five behaviours in evaluations has pros and cons that it’s important to be aware of. Whilst it clarifies expected behaviour and provides outside motivation, it could potentially take away the voluntary aspect and create stress, which defeats the purpose of OCB and the fact that it’s a personal choice.

In order to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on employees, it’s best to consider this on a case-by-case basis rather than instantly implementing it company-wide, as every employee is different and has different motivations.

Closing thoughts

In conclusion, as we’ve explored today, Organisational Citizenship Behaviour can significantly drive an organisation's success. Promoting OCB cultivates teamwork, dedication, and a positive work atmosphere, resulting in boosted productivity and overall achievement by all.

Everybody wins!

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