Research shows that interests play a bigger role than any other factor in whether people stay in careers. So, if you can make even a slight improvement in the “fit” between your employees’ interests and what they’re doing for work, you can greatly increase retention in your group or department.
Abilities matter, too. However, regardless of how well a job or career path suits a person’s skills, if the work doesn’t enable the person to express his or her interests, that employee will never love the job and won’t likely excel at it. Most people could produce a long list of things they’re good at – but will never have any interest in doing. When people have an interest in a particular kind of work, they develop the abilities needed – not the other way around.
And rewards matter as well. But no matter how well-rewarded people are for doing work that doesn’t match their interests, they’re still never going to love or excel at the job if it doesn’t suit their interests. In fact, most people, at one time or another, have taken a job that paid less than what they could have earned elsewhere – simply because they found the work more interesting.
Finally, interests remain far more stable over time than abilities and motivations do. A person can develop abilities, as well as let them fade away. And the rewards they favor now can change over the years, depending on shifting life circumstances. But a person’s interest pattern today will look very much the same 10 or 20 years later.