Get to Know Your Core Needs


Core Needs: BICEPS
There are six core needs researchers find are most important for humans at work. Not all are equally important to everyone. You might find that equity and belonging are most important to you, but choice and status are most important to your employee.  Getting to know them and coaching to them is a shortcut to making others feel understood and valued (aka inclusivity). Downloadable PDF here.


  • Community: A feeling of friendship and closeness with a group, or being part of a tight community of any size.

  • Community well-being: People are cared for, the whole group feels happy and healthy.

  • Connection: Feeling kinship and mutual understanding with another person. 

Improvement/ Progress

  • Progress towards purpose: You are helping make progress towards an important goal for the company, your team or your own career/ life.

  • Improving the lives of others: You see how your work helps improve things for others.

  • Personal growth: Learning/ seeing fast growth in yourself in skills that matter to you.


  • Choice: Having flexibility, the chance to have more control over key parts of your world.

  • Autonomy: Having clear ownership over a domain where you can do as you wish, without asking for permission.

  • Decision-making: The ability to make decisions about the things that matter to you.

Equality/ Fairness

  • Access to resources (money, time, space, etc) feels fair/ equitable.

  • Access to information feels fair: All groups/ people have access to information that is relevant to them.

  • Equal reciprocity: You support each other equally.

  • Decisions are fair and everyone is treated as equally important.


  • Resources: There’s enough certainty about resources (money, personnel hours, space) so you can focus on your job or goals.

  • Time: There’s certainty about when things will occur/ when you can prepare for them.

  • Future challenges: You can anticipate and thus can prepare for future challenges.

  • Direction: Goals, strategy, and direction stay consistent and don’t change too often/fast.


  • Status: You hold a title/ role that honors your worth among your peers/ your industry.

  • Visibility: Your work is highly visible to people that matter.

  • Recognition: Your work is recognized and appreciated in ways that feel good.   

BICEPS is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License: Paloma Medina 2015

Learn more about core motivators: Daniel Pink's writing on the psychology of motivation, Teresa Amabile's awesome research via the Progress Principle, and The Neuroleadership Institute's publications on core drivers.

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