We have talked about what makes up a good manager. But no matter what level they are at, in a company, the bigger underlying question is: What constitutes a good employee in the 21st century workplace?
Are ‘good employee’ traits always quantifiable in performance appraisals, or is there something more to consider? Today, we will share some insights on the “intangible” aspects of what an ideal employee brings.
The key reason being: team work, company culture, and how you manage people, all get strongly impacted by these non-quantifiable aspects that some employees bring to the table.
Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) encompasses anything positive and constructive that employees do, of their own volition, which supports coworkers and benefits the company.
Typically, employees who frequently engage in OCB may not always be the top performers, but they are the ones who are known to ‘go the extra mile’ or ‘go above and beyond’ the minimum efforts required to do a merely satisfactory job.
An employee who takes the initiative and offers to lend a hand; the knowledgeable, helpful, and cooperative colleague; the senior staff member who is able to roll with the punches; or the friendly, approachable manager who shows the new employees around the office and introduces them to other staff – OCB is a win-win on all accounts.
Perceived to be something intangible, OCB is not always formally recognized or rewarded as concepts like ‘helpfulness’ or ‘friendliness’ are difficult to quantify. Yet, it has been shown to have a considerable positive impact, enhancing organizational effectiveness from 18% to 38% across different dimensions of measurement (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Paine & Bachrach, 2000; Ehrhart, 2004).
There are various ways to promote the positive aspects of OCB in one’s workplace – through employee motivation as well as by creating a workplace environment that is conducive and supportive of OCB (Organ, Podsakoff & MacKenzie, 2006). The correlations between OCB and job satisfaction is approximately 0.4 (Organ, 1988). Needless to say, satisfied workers perform better but this is correlational, not causal.
The effects on employee performance are threefold:
- Workers who engage in OCB tend to receive better performance ratings by their managers (Podsakoff et al., 2009).This could be because employees who engage in OCB are simply liked more and perceived more favorably (this has become known as the ‘halo effect’), or it may be due to more work-related reasons such as the manager’s belief that OCB plays a significant role in the organization’s overall success, or perception of OCB as a form of employee commitment due to its voluntary nature (Organ et al., 2006).
- A better performance rating is linked to gaining rewards (Podsakoff et al., 2009)– such as pay increments, bonuses, promotions or work-related benefits.
- Because these employees have better performance ratings and receive greater rewards, when the company is downsizing, e.g., during an economic recession, these employees will have a lower chance of being made redundant (Organ et al, 2006).
Why employees displaying OCB are a worthy investment
One of the crucial elements of OCB is the fact that although it is often recognized and rewarded by managerial staff, employees do not necessarily make the connection between performing OCB and reward gain, and do not expect rewards (Organ, 1997).
Given that OCB has such a significant impact on the productivity and efficiency of the organization, and workers do not expect to be reimbursed for their efforts, OCB should be considered an efficient way of improving organizational profitability and reducing costs through, for example, lowering rates of absenteeism and turnover.
At the same time, it increases employee performance and well being, as cooperative workers are more productive, and OCB enhances the social environment in the workplace.
What constitutes a good employee in the 21st century workplace is no longer limited to what an employee brings in terms of technical skills and expertise- that’s a given. But with specific OCB traits, we already see the impact on productivity, company spirit etc.
It is not difficult to believe then, that hiring managers are constantly on a look out for personalities that bring these to the table. After all, which manager does not wish to have employees and a team that can gel well together and enhance the “culture”. Henry Ford said it way back that,
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”