This study seeks to investigate the effect of compassion in the public service workplace. Our compassion model is based on public service sector employees who receive compassionate feelings such as affection, generosity, caring, and tenderness from their supervisors. A longitudinal study of 166 public service employees, their supervisors and 333 of their clients (citizens) was conducted in Israel. In this longitudinal study, we found evidence that receipt of compassion from supervisors (at time 1) in the public service workplace was positively associated with employees’ sense of work engagement, and negatively related to their work burnout (at time 2). Furthermore, receipt of compassion (at time 1) was also found to impact public service employees’ organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) and knowledge sharing (at time 2) as rated by their supervisors, as well as their service-oriented performance of compassionate behavior toward clients (at time 2), rated by the citizens. Finally, we found evidence for compassion acting as a mechanism for coping with common stressful public service conditions such as demanding citizens and administrative workload, which are inherent in this sector. Compassion in the public service workplace may therefore be salient in effecting public service work performance, and as such should be consciously targeted by public sector managers and policy makers.
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