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

Alma Akkerman*, Sabina Kef, Herman P. Meininger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1192-1199
Number of pages8
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number10
Early online date13 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2018


  • employment
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • job satisfaction
  • needs
  • workplace participation


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