Created: 04 July 2016
Go the Extra Mile...It'll Make Your Feel Good!
Doing something for nothing is a concept that has become somewhat alien to us, especially at work. We have in essence established a transactional relationship where the condition is: ‘I provide you with my services and you remunerate me’. It’s your bog standard procedure and what is expected. However, what if we choose to go that extra mile at work which does not require any kind of reward? For example, coming into work early/ staying late, helping others in their work or arranging events at work. So basically it’s a situation where we are voluntarily engaging in task-related behaviours that are beyond what is minimally required of us.
But why would we want to do this ?
Well Deww Zhang’s White Paper published in 2011 suggests that OCBs ‘ have a positive impact on employee performance and wellbeing, and this in turn has noticeable flow-on effects on the organisation’. This provides us with a deeper satisfaction that does not require a reward, as it is enough when we see that our contribution is having an overall positive effect on our company. Job satisfaction provides us with much needed meaning and purpose at work (Duffy, Allan, Autin, & Douglass, 2014). Not do we only personally benefit but so does our organisation and so it is vital for the latter party to encourage these behaviours in order for the employees to feel that they are an essential and important member of their workplace.
A term to classify this behaviour was coined by Dennis Organ (1988) as Organisational Citizenship Behaviour (OCB). This he defined as “individual behaviour that is discretionary (employees choose to engage in these activities out of their own volition), not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system (not rewarded i.e through salary increments or promotions), and that in the aggregate promotes the effective functioning of the organisation". It must be noted here that such behaviours may be recognised and hence have an effect on supervisor and co-worker ratings as well as performance appraisals.
However, as with everything it is important to maintain a healthy balance because when we put too much effort in participating in OCBs we may end up sacrificing on our performance at work. Also, if these OCBs end up extending into twilight hours this may have a negative impact on our personal lives. As well as this the true essence of altruistic behaviour may be lost if it becomes competitive amongst our colleagues (Zhang, 2011)
Feeling OCBish ?
i) If it makes you feel good then do it – there’s no need to feel guilty !
ii) If workers benefit then so does the company - so managers should try and encourage these behaviours
But a word of caution…
iii) Make sure you don’t go overboard and compromise on your work performance and personal life – Keep it balanced !
Written by Bushra Hussain
Zhang, D. (2011). Organizational Citizenship Behavior. PSYCH761 White paper (OCB) 4629332.
Duffy, R. D., Allan, B. A., Autin, K. L., & Douglass, R. P. (2014). Living a calling and work well-being: A longitudinal study. Journal Of Counseling Psychology, 61(4), 605-615. doi:10.1037/cou0000042
Organ, D. W. (1988). Organizational Citizenship behavior: The good soldier syndrome. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.