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Productive and Counterproductive Behaviours Research Paper

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Updated: Dec 16th, 2021


Many organizations are concerned with how they can increase productivity. To remain competitive in a highly competitive business environment, organizations have to make the best use of their resources. Managing human resources, however, is one of the most challenging tasks. All employees are expected to work towards the goals and objectives of an organization. However sometimes employees engage in behaviours that impend rather than promote attainment of the objectives. By good organizational management, counterproductive behaviours can be reduced and productive behaviours encouraged.


Productive behaviour and counterproductive behaviour are common terms in organizational psychology. Productive organizational behaviour refers to the behaviours that promote the attainment of organizational goals and objectives (Douglas, Gundlach, & Martinko, 2002, p. 37). Each employee in an organization is assigned duties and responsibilities. He or she is aware of what is expected of him or her. When there is productive behaviour the objectives of an organization are more likely to be attained. Counterproductive organizational behaviours, on the other hand, are behaviours that block the attainment of organizational goals and objectives (Jex, 2008, p.167). Counterproductive behaviour can be viewed as the opposite of productive behaviours. The effect of counterproductive behaviours is reduction of an organization’s productivity. Counterproductive behaviours constitute such as laziness, cheating, absenteeism and harassment.

Effects of Productive and Counterproductive Behaviours

Productive and counterproductive behaviours have effects on employees’ performance and the overall performance of an organization. Employees are expected to behave in ways that lead to positive contribution to an organization’s goals and objectives. Employees with productive behaviours behave in ways that have positive contribution to the organization’s productivity. Such employees execute their duties to the best of their capability. In some occasions, employees with productive behaviours go beyond call of duty to perform chores that they believe are of beneficial to an organization. The employees can also come up with innovations that help to increase productivity in an organization. The employees have a sense of ownership to their organizations and contribute selflessly to their success. Employees with productive behaviours are highly motivated to their jobs. Productive behaviours have positive contribution to an employee’s performance. The employees are highly motivated in their duties and their performance is enhanced. Such employees will demonstrate such behaviours as hard work, trustworthiness and self driven. For example, an employee with productive behaviour will strive to perform more tasks. Productive behaviours lead to better performance by employee overall better performance to an organization.

Counterproductive behaviours have negative effect on the performance of the employees and the organization. Counterproductive behaviours tend to counter production in an organization. The behaviours constitute behaviours such as absenteeism, unsafe behaviours, ineffectiveness and low turnover (Douglas, Gundlach, & Martinko, 2002, p. 41). At extreme circumstances the behaviours can include behaviours such as theft, sexual harassment, substance abuse and violence. Counterproductive behaviours affect the performance of the employee with the behaviours as well those of other employees. Lacks of job motivation in these employees affect the way in which they conduct their duties. Behaviours such as absenteeism reduce the amount of time for production leading to less production. Antisocial behaviours such as sexual harassment affect the performance and productivity of other employees. Counterproductive behaviours lead to low performance and productivity and can lead to additional cost to an organization.

Overcoming Counterproductive Behaviours

Counterproductive behaviours have negative effect to performance and productivity of an organization. To improve performance, organization should work to reduce counterproductive behaviours and promote productive behaviours (Jex, 2008, p.168). The first step the solution is to identify the existence of counterproductive behaviours. An organization can identify the existence of counterproductive behaviours by evaluating the general performance of the organization. Performance feedback is very important in identifying the existence of counterproductive behaviours. Consistent unexplained drop in organization performance can indicate existence of counterproductive behaviours. Personal data, subjective evaluation, production data and electronic performance monitoring can be use to evaluate performance and identify the sources of counterproductive behaviours. Data on the number of absence, tardiness, sick day, safety violations and disciplinary actions can say much on existence of counter productive behaviours (Jex, 2008, p.172). After identifying the existence of the behaviours, the organizations should identify the causes. The causes can include low motivation, poor selection, performance expectation or poor socialization. The bottom line to preventing counterproductive behaviours is to have an effective performance evaluation and feedback system.

Productive behaviours can be encouraged in an organization. Performance of employees can be improved by matching employee’s capability with responsibility (Douglas, Gundlach, & Martinko, 2002, p. 44). The employees should not be given tasks that are excessively challenging. This calls for better selection of employees. Organization cultures have great influence on performance. The culture should encourage interpersonal communication within the organization. The culture should encourage the employees to have a sense of ownership to an organization.


Counterproductive behaviours are major challenges to organizations. The behaviours lower productivity and can lead to additional cost. Ability to identify the existence and source of counterproductive behaviours is very important. Good performance evaluation and feedback systems can help to identify counterproductive behaviours and take necessary corrective measures.


Douglas, S., Gundlach, M., & Martinko, M. (2002). Toward an Integrative Theory of Counterproductive Workplace Behaviour: A Causal Reasoning Perspective. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 10: 36-50.

Jex, S. M. (2008). Organizational psychology: A scientist- practitioner approach: Counterproductive Behaviour in Organizations. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.

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