What Are the Goals of Organizational Behavior?

The goals of OB are to explain, predict, and influence behavior. Managers need to be able to explain why employees engage in some behaviors rather than others, predict how employees will respond to various actions and decisions, and influence how employees behave.

SIX important employee behaviors that managers are specifically concerned with explaining, predicting, and influencing include the following:

  1. Employee productivity—a performance measure of both work efficiency and effectiveness. Managers want to know what factors will influence the efficiency and effectiveness of employees.

  2. Absenteeism—the failure to show up for work. It’s difficult for work to get done if employees don’t show up. Studies have shown that the total of all major types of absences cost organizations an average 35 percent of payroll, with unscheduled absences costing companies around $660 per employee per year.1 Although absenteeism can’t be totally eliminated, excessive levels have a direct and immediate impact on the organization’s functioning.

  3. Turnover—the voluntary and involuntary permanent withdrawal from an organization. It can be a problem because of increased recruiting, selection, training costs, and work disruptions. Just like absenteeism, managers can never eliminate turnover, but it is something they want to minimize, especially among high-performing employees.

  4. Organizational citizenship behavior—discretionary behavior that’s not part of an employee’s formal job requirements, but which promotes the effective functioning of the organization.2 Examples of good OCB include helping others on one’s work team, volunteering for extended job activities, avoiding unnecessary conflicts, and making constructive statements about one’s work group and the organization. Organizations need individuals who will do more than their usual job duties and the evidence indicates that organizations that have such employees outperform those that don’t.3 However, drawbacks to OCB arise if employees experience work overload, stress, and work-family conflicts.4

  5. Job satisfaction—an employee’s general attitude toward his or her job. Although job satisfaction is an attitude rather than a behavior, it’s an outcome that concerns many managers because satisfied employees are more likely to show up for work, have higher levels of performance, and stay with an organization.

  6. Workplace misbehavior—any intentional employee behavior that is potentially harmful to the organization or individuals within the organization. Workplace misbehavior shows up in organizations in four ways: deviance, aggression, antisocial behavior, and violence.5 Such behaviors can range from playing loud music just to irritate coworkers, to verbal aggression, to sabotaging work, all of which can create havoc in any organization.

Photo of Darryl Kato working in a lab

Job satisfaction is an important concern of managers at Gilead Sciences, a biopharmaceutical firm that develops new medicines for HIV/AIDS and other unmet medical needs. Highly satisfied employees like research scientist Darryl Kato, shown here, are essential to Gilead in achieving its goal of improving the lives of people who suffer from life-threatening diseases.

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

In the following pages, you’ll get a better understanding of how four psychological factors—employee attitudes, personality, perception, and learning—can help managers predict and explain these six employee behaviors.