What Is Work Behavior?

Every business owner dreams that their company runs like a well-oiled machine.

Businesses operate smoothly when team members are engaged with other team members, and everyone contributes to a positive work environment.

However, counterproductive work behavior can sometimes lower job satisfaction and begin to affect an employee’s performance level.

What can be done to identify problem areas and address them?

Work Behavior Versus Work Attitude

Work behavior refers to employees’ actions to carry out their job duties. Both positive and negative behaviors will affect one’s job performance overall.

Work attitude is closely tied to work behavior. Attitude often drives workplace behaviors.

A worker’s feelings and thoughts about the company, assigned tasks, and co-workers are personal factors contributing to how they approach their job.

Poor work attitudes lead to counterproductive behaviors that could spread to other team members and degrade work performance.

Job attitudes are often tied to personality. Playful team members may have a more difficult time relating to introverted team members. And an aggressive team member may dominate a more passive team member – even unintentionally.

Why Should You Understand Work Behavior?

Work behavior is important to understand because of its impact on your company’s effectiveness.

An unpleasant work environment can increase employee turnover and create a revolving door where companies spend time recruiting new talent only to have high-performing employees leave.

On the other hand, you can encourage a positive environment when you take definite steps to address counterproductive behaviors and negative work attitudes.

What Are Four Key Work Behaviors?

Consider four areas where work behavior affects job performance and how management can address these.

1: Job Performance

An employee’s actual job performance – the duties they carry out – often determine how successful team members and management consider them.

Things like an employee’s cognitive ability – reasoning ability, verbal and numerical skills, and analytical skills all come into play in determining their competence at a particular job.

However, having high general mental abilities is only one aspect. Job performance refers to how an employee handles relationships with other employees and how they deal with stressful situations.

Encourage improved work performance through your organizational psychology—highlight beneficial traits like organization, reliability, and conscientiousness.

Remember to take steps to recognize and reward exceptional workplace behavior.

2: Organizational Citizenship Behaviors

Job performance involves tasks that are directly described in a job description. But organizational citizenship behaviors are voluntary behaviors that make employees more valuable to the company.

A worker may perform citizenship behaviors when they:

  • Volunteer to organize a department party
  • Help other employees understand an assignment
  • Offer suggestions to management for new ideas for improving business efficiency

Unhappy workers are less likely to demonstrate citizenship behaviors. An isolating team member who fails to develop interpersonal relationships makes be less likely to reach out to help others.

Personality again comes into play as some people are gregarious and more ready to take the initiative to display organizational citizenship behaviors.

3: Absenteeism

Unscheduled absences can cost the company efficiency and money, and it can be a struggle to fill the hole that absent employees create.

Company reaction may involve hiring contingent workers or having employees work overtime to pick up the slack. Absenteeism can be added to the list of work behaviors that increase the strain on everyone. And it could become a compounding problem that grows over time.

Age may be a factor in this work behavior. Younger employees may need to gain life experience or work history to have developed a disciplined and conscientious attitude toward work.

Of course, some absenteeism is unavoidable. Health reasons and having a good work-life balance – for example, caring for social and family obligations – are important factors that should be considered when considering an employee’s work behaviors.

4: Turnover

Employee turnover happens when an employee leaves the organization.

This can have potentially harmful consequences. Poor customer service can result when companies must carry out ongoing job interviews to replace those that have left.

Newly hired employees may be less productive after they take time to learn the ropes.

What factors lead to turnover?

Stressful job details like role ambiguity drain energy from productive workers. Unclear job descriptions leave employees wondering what their main role and additional responsibilities they will be accountable for.

Unhappiness may lead an individual to begin searching for a more desirable job. They may need the ability to follow through due to job market conditions when national and regional unemployment is high.

However, they will be ready to move on when economic factors improve. A company should work to improve worker happiness through relevant employee benefits and amenities.

Only some turnover is good, and the leaving employee’s job performance determines whether it is a negative or positive development. When poor performers exit, it becomes an opportunity to hire a more suitable replacement.

Companies may benefit from pay-for-performance systems where it makes sense. The unhappy or poorly performing workers will be incentivized to leave since they are not earning much due to their lower job performance.

How To Improve Counterproductive Work Behavior

After reviewing the work behaviors above, it is easy to see that many factors affect how well an employee performs.

Job performance and organizational citizenship behaviors are positive aspects that can make a business productive and a fun place to work.

Absenteeism and employee turnover can create additional stressors that create a negative work environment.

When employees feel empowered and are treated fairly, they are more likely to be happy and express positive attitudes and behaviors.

Strive to establish accepted norms for work performance so that workers fully understand what is expected of them. Employees feel supported when you develop a management style that values their input.

Avoid aggressive communication styles and encourage organizational citizenship behavior. Look for new ideas on how to make your work environment a pleasant one.

As a result, you will improve business processes and job performance all at once.

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