Job satisfaction of people with intellectual disabilities: the role of basic psychological need fulfillment and workplace participation

Disabil Rehabil. 2018 May;40(10):1192-1199. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2017.1294205. Epub 2017 Mar 13.


Purpose: Knowledge on what contributes to job satisfaction of people with intellectual disabilities is limited. Using self-determination theory, we investigated whether fulfillment of basic psychological needs (i.e., autonomy, relatedness, competence) affected job satisfaction, and explored associations between workplace participation, need fulfillment and job satisfaction.

Method: A total of 117 persons with intellectual disabilities, recruited from a Dutch care organization, were interviewed on need fulfillment at work and job satisfaction. Data on workplace participation was obtained from staff. Questionnaires were based on well-established instruments.

Results: Basic psychological need fulfillment predicted higher levels of job satisfaction. Level of workplace participation was not associated with need fulfillment or job satisfaction.

Conclusions: Allowing workers with intellectual disabilities to act with a sense of volition, feel effective, able to meet challenges, and connected to others is essential and contributes to job satisfaction. It is needed to pay attention to this, both in selection and design of workplaces and in support style. Implications for rehabilitation Knowledge on factors that contribute to job satisfaction is necessary to improve employment situations and employment success of people with intellectual disabilities. In order to achieve job satisfaction, it is essential that workplaces allow for fulfillment of the basic psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competence of people with intellectual disabilities. People with intellectual disabilities are able to report on their needs and satisfaction, and it is important that their own perspective is taken into account in decisions regarding their employment situation.

Keywords: Intellectual disabilities; employment; job satisfaction; needs; workplace participation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Employment* / methods
  • Employment* / psychology
  • Employment* / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability* / psychology
  • Intellectual Disability* / rehabilitation
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • Netherlands
  • Personal Autonomy*
  • Quality Improvement
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace* / psychology
  • Workplace* / standards