Organisational citizenship deals with the actions and behaviors that are not required by workers, but benefit the team and encourage even greater organizational functioning and efficiency. And it’s something many organisations take for granted – how wrong they are!
“Good organisational citizens go the extra mile to support both their peer employees and the organisation and moreover outside their job responsibilities” – The Effectiveness lab
Now, organisations have skills requirements and when they are short on certain skills, they scan the labour market to find individuals with the appropriate skills repository.
Human Resource units and increasingly external headhunting firms usually support: the in-house skills definition/calibration process, labour market outreaches and the subsequent recruitment and selection of individuals with the right skills for the company.
After an employee is selected and offered a contract and they sign on the dotted line – the organisation will have granted its new employee the organisation’s citizenship and a number of things sequentially happen, that may result in either a tenable or untenable organisational citizenship:
- Upon entry, the employee spends time learning and deepening their understanding of the organisation and the citizenship rights extended or not, to them
- The employee embraces the organisation’s citizenship as granted
- Employees that embrace the organisation’s citizenship undergo months or even years of citizenship-relationship-contracting. And like in the normal relationship contracting process, they: initially take time connecting to the new environment – reach out and bond – appreciate – embrace – deepen the relationship – and start to exhibit behaviour that conforms to values and ethos of the organisation. You start to see from the employee the deep love and defence of the organisation’s passport and what it stands for.
On the other hand, employees may never embrace the organisation’s citizenship. Things fail to work out
There are reasons for the failure to embrace the organisational citizenship offer:
- Values misfit for both the employee and employer; broken promises on either side; different DNA, the invisibles that aren’t seen from the outside, to things merely failing to work out
- When employees don’t embrace the citizenship granted to them, disengagement manifests: not going the extra mile at work and simply considering the job a ‘go and pick my pay cheque’ affair, under-productivity, not working well with teams, being quick to see the negative than positive, and how the latter can be used as the segue into the solution seeking process (building on the strengths), etc
- Disengagement results in employees ‘voting with their feet’ or if still at the organisation, continued dissatisfaction and whining.
What employees and employers can do to build and sustain good organisational citizenry
- Either before or soon after you start your new job, invest the time to understand what your new organisation is about – vision, mission, values and ethos and why the entity believes in what it believes in. Understanding the innards of your new organisation is more than a paper exercise. Ask those that have been around long enough and are good citizens, why things are done in the manner they are
- Appreciate that no organisation is perfect. Use the positives at the organisation to mitigate the negatives
- When the time is right, be the change that you want to see at the organisation and support the organisation to fix its negatives. This can be done via constructive feedback at meetings – one on one sessions with your line manager, the owners, etc
- Have a robust recruitment and selection system to ensure you hire the right fit for the organisation
- According to a study done in Procedia Economics and Finance, altruism, courtesy, and conscientiousness were cited as the personality characteristics having a high link to an employee’s tendency to engage in tenable organisational citizenship. These behaviors were also tied to job satisfaction, justice, transformational leadership, and organizational support. Tenable organisational citizenship is vital for employee retention.
- Invest the time to orient new recruits on the organisation’s values and ethos and the raison d’etre for existing
- Be the learning organisation and look out for ‘truths and facts’ from those that may not embrace the citizenship offer. There are always lessons in such situations and sustainable organisations take a step back and learn from such situations, however uncomfortable they may feel
- Foster an environment where good citizenship can thrive – for example, creating safe spaces, time and non-financial rewards for the good-citizens to imbue the right citizenship ethos in the peer employees
“The future of a nation-state is the quality of its citizens. Powerful nations have committed and high quality/input citizens – citizens that even choose to go to war to defend the nation. They will proudly wear the insignia of the nation and defend it. They work harder, everyday, aware that the health and viability of the nation is fundamental to their own wellbeing and survival. And in return, good nation states look after their citizens.” – The Effectiveness lab
It’s a no brainer, one would assume, that a cadre of quintessential organisational citizens give to the organisation: the seamless integration of the young and other new organisational citizens into the values and ethos of the organisation, free brand marketing, high quality labour with a sense of purpose, individual and team productivity as well as harmony in the workplace
Do you have the right paradigm and investment for your organisational citizenship agenda?