BICEPS: Six Core Needs for Humans at Work

How do you feel about your work at the moment? Do you enjoy what you are doing? Do you feel excited about it? Does it give you a sense of accomplishment and significance? Do you feel valued and are part of a great team? Do you enjoy your role as a leader or the choices you have at your job? Chances are that the one or other might be true for you and, depending on how much you value certain aspects of your work, you might either be happy or unhappy with what you are doing at the moment. In fact, many people are dissatisfied with their career choices and jobs, which makes it as important as ever to create (remote) work environments and teams in which people enjoy what they are doing, get to live up to their full potential, and, most importantly, are willing to take risks and try out new things. But how?

Researchers have studied what it takes to create fulfilling work environments and it all comes down to a few basic human needs. Core needs that we all value and try to meet at different levels, but which are all essential to make us feel valued and satisfied. There are a few different models that try to describe those needs, one of which is Paloma Medina’s BICEPS framework. Lara Hogan talked about this list of core needs in the latest episode of Matt Mullenweg’s podcast Distributed, which I highly recommend.

BICEPS consists of six core needs that are most important for humans at work:

Belonging

As humans, we want to be part of a group, a tribe, a family. We need that feeling of friendship and closeness with others to feel safe and comfortable.

Improvement/Progress

We all want to grow, improve, and make progress toward a meaningful goal, both personally and as a group.

Choice

What would life be without at least a feeling of choice? We want to be in control and make our own, autonomous decisions which, ideally, bring about real change.

Equality/Fairness

We want to be treated fairly but also demand the same for others. Access to information and resources should be equal for every member of the group.

Predictability

We need the certainty that resources, time, and information will be available in the future and that the challenges ahead of us are, to a certain degree, manageable.

Significance

And lastly, we want to be recognized for our work. We seek status and want to feel valued, important, needed, or respected.

Paying attention to those core needs when managing a team or a company can help us be more socially sensitive and understand team dynamics much better. But it also helps us to understand our own motivations much better. After all, we aren’t rational decision-makers. Much of our behavior is the result of complex emotions and social motivations. Understanding this is the first step to making others feel valued and, ultimately, satisfied with their work.

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This is the 53rd post of my 100 days of writing series. You can find a list of all posts here.

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