Is it Fair to Include “Citizenship” in Performance Appraisals?

Topic: Citizenship Behavior, Performance Appraisal
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (DEC 2009)
Article: Organizational citizenship behavior in performance evaluations: Distributive justice or injustice
Authors: S.K., Johnson, C.L. Holladay, & M.A. Quinones
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (OCBs) are volitional work behaviors that go above and beyond the call of duty and are intended to benefit the organization and/or its members.  Though OCBs are not  formally required of employees (e.g., don’t show up in the job description), they are highly valued by organizations. Thus, supervisors (and peers) often consider employees’ OCBs in formal performance appraisals.  But, how do employees feel about this?  In other words, since OCBs are not absolutely required of employees, do employees find this practice fair?

Johnson, Holladay, and Quinones (2009) investigated the extent to which employees consider including OCBs in formal performance appraisals fair. The authors conducted two separate experiments, one employing a sample of 78 employees from diverse organizations and industries and the other employing a large sample of undergraduate students.  In general, the findings of both studies were similar.

Overall, employees reported that it is fairer to include OCBs in performance appraisals than to not include them. Importantly, employees felt that it is most fair to include OCBs in performance appraisals when they constitute about 30 – 50% of the total performance rating (While the remaining represents Core Task Behaviors).

Johnson et al. also found that while females generally preferred higher weightings of OCBs (between 25 and 50%) men found a 20 – 30% weighting of OCBs to be most fair. Johnson et al. speculated that the findings for gender represent differences in the typical gender roles of males and females. For example, they suggested that in general, females are expected to engage in more helping behaviors (i.e., OCBs) than men at work and they want their performance ratings to account for this.

Whether this is true or not (and we welcome your personal insight on this matter!), it is clear that employees  consider OCBs to be an important and rate-able portion of their job performance. Ultimately, employees do find it fair to include OCBs in performance appraisals, but the extent to which OCBs makeup the total performance appraisal depends largely on gender.

Johnson, S.K., Holladay, C.L., & Quinones, M.A. (2009). Organizational citizenship behavior in performance evaluations: Distributive justice or injustice. Journal of Business and Psychology, 24, 409-418.