Your 5 Basic Needs at Work

development May 18, 2021

Do you know your 5 Basic Needs at work?

You’re likely familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but Glasser’s 5 Basic Needs are different—the hierarchy order is unique to you

The 5 Basic Needs originate from Dr. William Glasser’s Reality Therapy and include: (1) Survival/Security, (2) Power, (3) Belonging, (4) Freedom, and (5) Fun. These needs are the motivations behind all of our behavior. 

In the context of work, the 5 Basic Needs look like: 

  1. Survival/Security: Your pay, schedule, and workload are consistent and reliable. 
  2. Power: Your voice matters when decisions are being made, and you can achieve goals.  
  3. Belonging: You have friends and feel approved by others.
  4. Freedom: You possess autonomy and have control over your time and career trajectory. 
  5. Fun: This depends on your personality and interests. Perhaps this is friendly banter with coworkers or getting to squeeze in an exercise class during the workday. 

While each of the 5 needs should be met to some extent at work, it is vital to know which need is most important to you. How do you uncover this? 

Think of a day you felt fulfilled and satisfied at the end of the workday. Which of the 5 Basic Needs was most evident behind the scenes? What motivated your thoughts and behaviors? 

Another tool for determining your #1 need is through your CliftonStrengths. Discover what each of your Strengths needs through Gallup’s Bring & Need to see if it provides clues. Your Strengths represent the ways you naturally think, feel, and behave. They also reveal your unique needs.

Once you determine your greatest need at work, consider this in all your career decisions, including applying for a new role or planning out your workday: 

  • If Belonging is most important to you, and you leave your job for one that pays better (Survival/Security)— you may still feel unfulfilled if you don’t feel a strong sense of Belonging. 
  • If your #1 is Fun, it needs to be integrated in your daily workday. This can often be fulfilled by working at a company with a culture that aligns with your personality/interests.
  • You feel the most fulfilled at work when you can exceed your goals (Power), so feeling valuable may be more important than the Freedom to work with total autonomy. 

Determine your greatest need at work and exactly what fulfills it. Honor this key aspect of yourself—your career happiness and fulfillment depend on it.

Searching for support? The Strengths Journal guides you through intentionally planning your day and setting purposeful goals. Support for the journey is also here for you through 1:1 and group coaching.

Kristin Moore

member of The Strengths Journal team

Sources: HeadStuff & GoodTherapy

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