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Positive and Negative Workplace Behaviors

Updated: Jan 31

Author: Feride Ongun

Publication date: 03.10.2023

The workplace is an environment in which a variety of different behaviors come up. In particular, we can divide these behaviors into two positive and negative workplace behaviors. Researchers have given this behavior many different names such as workplace deviation, counterproductive behavior, and antisocial behavior.

Negative work behavior jeopardizes the well-being of the organization. On the contrary, positive work behaviors increase the welfare level of the organization. So, what are positive and negative work behaviors?

Positive work behaviors

Positive Work Behaviors

● Work performance

● Organizational Citizenship Behavior

Work Performance

Determinants of work performance are motivation, ability, and organizational constraints. In fact, it is a positive factor for a person to have motivation and ability regarding work. This is because if an employee has enough motivation and ability, she/he will be successful at work. However, some organizational constraints may reduce this performance. We can give an example of this: the lack of needed training, tools, machines, and time.

Organizational Citizenship Behavior

Organizational citizenship behaviors are beneficial to the organization, (apart from the obligations of the job). Actually, it is associated with altruism and adaptability.Some reasons for this are job satisfaction, commitment, justice, and good relationships.

Factors of Positive Workplace Behaviors

Psychological empowerment is a key enabler of positive work behaviors. Psychological empowerment allows employees to participate in decision-making processes. This means that employees are more likely to exhibit behaviors that are beneficial to the organization. So, companies that empower their employees have reaped huge financial and psychological gains.

Negative Work Behaviors

There are 3 types of negative work behaviors:

Negative Work Behaviors

● Withdrawal

● Counterproductive Work Behaviors

● Workplace Mistreatment


Withdrawal includes behaviors such as absenteeism, coming to work late, and leaving work. These behaviors may be temporary or permanent but surely inversely proportional to job satisfaction. Sometimes the reason for this behavior may be personal reasons such as illness.

Counterproductive Work Behaviors

Some counterproductive work behaviors; are aggression, sabotage, theft, and strikes. Counterproductive behaviors are a result of both work environment and personality.The consequences are severe for institutions and we can observe these behaviors directly or indirectly.

Workplace Mistreatment

Workplace mistreatment includes incivility, harassment, discrimination, abuse, and sexism. In fact, it can happen from manager to employee or vice versa. It can even be observed among employees. Individuals exposed to these behaviors experience negative consequences. Such a negative consequence could be decreased job satisfaction.

Reasons for Negative Behaviors

There are many reasons why individuals engage in negative behavior in the workplace. The most important thing is that their organization supports or encourages such behavior. Some organizations need dishonest and deceptive employees to be successful. The other factor is the influence that negative role models make.

What can we do to prevent negative workplace behavior?

● Institutions need to adapt to a certain organizational culture.

● Employers must convey this culture to all employees.

● Resume screening should be done when hiring employees.

● Employees must be knowledgeable about organizational strategies and goals.

● Employees should be directed to help the organization achieve its goals.


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