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Job interest isn't the only factor behind overall job satisfaction, study finds

Experts say that bosses and fellow colleagues also play a big role

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A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Houston found that consumers’ interest in their jobs isn’t the biggest factor in their overall job satisfaction. 

They found that being interested in a role is important when it comes to how employees perform, but other factors like positive relations with colleagues and bosses are more important when it comes to feeling satisfied at work. 

“In popular guidance literature, it is widely assumed that interest fit is important for job satisfaction,” said researcher Kevin Hoff. “Our results show that people who are more interested in their jobs tend to be slightly more satisfied, but interest assessments are more useful for guiding people towards jobs in which they will perform better and make more money.” 

Finding the right fit

To understand how job interest plays a role in satisfaction, the researchers analyzed 105 related studies spanning from 1949 through 2016. After evaluating data from over 39,000 participants, the researchers learned that having interest in a position wasn’t the only thing that contributed to job satisfaction. 

The study revealed that several factors come into play when determining satisfaction at work, including the values of the company and having a good rapport with co-workers. The researchers learned that having a genuine interest in a job was more closely related to how well employees performed in their roles and any subsequent progress that they made in that role, including promotions and raises. 

“Our main finding was that interest fit significantly predicts satisfaction, but it’s not as strong of a relation as people expect,” Hoff said. “Other things that lead to satisfaction include the organization you work for, your supervisor, colleagues, and pay.” 

For those looking for a career change or those just entering into the workforce, it can be overwhelming to try to find the perfect fit. The researchers explained that many assessments tend to focus solely on job interest, but these findings highlight that several other factors can come into play. 

“To be satisfied with a job, you don’t have to worry too much about finding a perfect fit for your interests because we know other things matter, too,” said Hoff. “As long as it’s something you don’t hate doing, you may find yourself very satisfied if you have a good supervisor, like your coworkers, and are treated fairly by your organization.” 

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