Organizational citizenship is a concept that all companies wish to have but very few can actually achieve. It is rooted in individual employees' view of the company and how they associate themselves with it.
Defining Organizational Citizenship
We can look at a company like a little city. It has a mayor (typically the owner or the person highest in charge) as well as different departments (heck, we can even have the cleaning crew as the sanitation department). So if we can look at a company like a little city, we can begin to look at the employees as citizens of that city. With that perspective in mind, we can see how citizens of our little city want it to be the best city it can be. They have a stake in wanting the city to be clean, prosperous and friendly.
What we are talking about when we look at a business from a perspective of a company being a city and wanting employees to feel closely associated with the city is organizational citizenship, or a perspective that employees have whereby they extend their behaviors beyond the normal duties of their position.
Examples of Organizational Citizenship
The sheer scope of organizational citizenship is far-reaching, and in a very good way. The employee who believes in (or we say 'practices') good organizational citizenship is one who has an eye out for the company's best interest at all times. That can take many different forms, such as:
- Assisting coworkers: An employee can take time from their work to help another to get their job done, as they know it's important to the company and to the other employee. We have all potentially had situations where others pitched in to get a job done that had nothing to do with their specific job, outside of wanting to help the company and a fellow worker.
- Working for the future: So many employees look at what they are going to get right now and do not look far into the future. Those who practice organizational citizenship believe there will be rewards down the road and do not focus on the short-term; rather, they focus on the long-term. This viewpoint also makes them long-term employees, which are desirable to any company.
- Being a company representative: When some employees leave for the day, the company they represent stays behind them in the office. An organizational citizen represents their company 24/7 and has no problem talking to others about how their company might help them. Think about standing in line with someone - you tell them about your company or job, and they begin to tell you how their company can help you. They are not on the clock, but they take the company with them wherever they go.
Do Companies Need This?
Do companies want or even need corporate citizens? You bet they do. To companies, these are some of the best employees to have, as they are more closely associated with the company and look at their job far beyond just their paycheck.
If you ran your own organization, would you not want your employees to do the same - to look out for the company, chip in even when they were not asked or even represent your company outside of work? The obvious answer is yes, and designing an organization where individuals like this can flourish and are the norm is truly a goal of many organizations.
As we discussed, organizational citizenship is the perspective that employees have whereby they extend their behaviors beyond the normal duties of their position. It is an extremely desirable goal for any company, and if we think about it, it shows how much a company cares about their employees.
While I have talked a lot about what the employee does to fit this definition, the company has to help as well. They have to set up a culture where the employees want to feel this way about their company and want to be citizens of this small city. After all, a city is only as strong as its citizens, and the same is true for an organization.
At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:
- Describe what organizational citizenship is
- Explain how assisting coworkers, working for the future and being a company representative fit into organizational citizenship
- Analyze why organizational citizenship is necessary for a company