Have you ever decided not to help out at work because doing so would provide a workaround for a problem the organization needs to address? In this article, Diane Bergeron and coauthors discuss how employees experience a mix of thoughts and feelings about helping out at work, a phenomenon they call citizenship ambivalence. Research shows that helping at work has positive consequences but also has some negative ones. Because of this, employees sometimes feel torn about whether or not they should help. After discussing some common sources of this (e.g., role conflicts, organizational dualities), the authors discuss four employee responses to ambivalence (i.e., avoidance, compromise, dominance, holism). One implication for leaders is that high amounts of employee helping may signal that there are structural or systemic issues within the organization. Relying on employees’ good will to fix systemic problems may lead to burnout and retention issues.

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