The associations between basic psychological need satisfaction at work and the wellbeing of Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees

Natasha R. Magson*, Rhonda G. Craven, Richard M. Ryan, Fabri Blacklock, Alicia Franklin, Janet Mooney, Alexander S. Yeung, Anthony Dillon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated how satisfaction of the basic psychological needs at work was associated with the psychological and physical wellbeing of Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees both within and outside of the workplace. Participants included 1,146 Indigenous (n = 559) and non-Indigenous Australians (60.9% female), aged 18 to 81 years (Mage = 43.54) who were recruited through their employer or online advertisements. Structural equation modelling (SEM) was used to analyse the data, and Indigenous status and occupation type were investigated as moderators. Results revealed that independent of income, autonomy satisfaction was related to better physical and psychological health, satisfaction of the need for relatedness was associated with increased family and community thriving, and competence satisfaction was linked to decreased psychological distress. Results also showed that autonomy, competence, and relatedness need satisfaction was lower among Indigenous employees compared to non-Indigenous employees. Moderation analyses suggested that relatedness at work was especially important for non-Indigenous employees’ connection with their community, as were high levels of competence satisfaction for Indigenous employees. These findings are discussed in the context of self-determination theory and the implications for organizations wanting to improve the wellbeing of their Indigenous and non-Indigenous workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalTranscultural Psychiatry
Early online date22 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Australian Research Council (grant number Indigenous Discovery Scheme/IN1501000060).

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) under the Indigenous Discovery Scheme (IN1501000060). The ARC had no further role in the study design, data collection and analysis, interpretation and reporting of the results, or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication. The authors wish to extend their gratitude to the research assistants who worked on this project and the participants who generously gave their time to participate in the study.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • indigenous employment
  • indigenous wellbeing
  • psychological need satisfaction at work
  • self-determination theory


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