HR Management & Compliance

How to Become an Indispensable Employee

The other day, a colleague passed along an article from Inc. magazine titled “35 Habits That Make Employees Extremely Valuable.” Whether you’re an employee trying to figure out how to make yourself indispensable to your employer or a manager looking for the right type of person for your team, this piece, written by Kevin Daum, is a great place to get some ideas.

In reading Daum’s article, I found myself nodding in agreement with a lot—if not most—of what he outlined. And of the 35 habits he lists, many of them jumped off the page at me as habits that I either see in some of our best people or am consistently looking for in the people we want to hire. Of course, it’s always easier to recognize them in the people you are working with every day than it is to identify them in a person interviewing for an open position in your organization.

Here are my top 10 choices of Daum’s 35 habits, with my comment behind each. See if you agree that the people who demonstrate them are your most valuable employees. Then take a look at the other 25 habits in Daum’s article and come up with your own top 10.


HR budget cuts? Let us help. HR.BLR.com is your one-stop solution for all your HR compliance and training needs. Take a no-cost, no-obligation trial and get a complimentary copy of our special report Critical HR Recordkeeping—From Hiring to Termination. It’s yours—no matter what you decide.


  1. They don’t wait to be asked. Valuable employees know what needs to be done, and they, to borrow from NIKE, just do it.

  1. They build bridges, not bombs. The best employees aren’t looking to sabotage others but are constantly looking for ways to collaborate to produce the best result.

  1. They proactively and effectively communicate. Communication is a two-way street, and great employees know how to get their message across.

  1. They make the office a great place to work. The really good employees always have a positive impact on the office, making it a place others enjoy being a part of.

  1. They motivate their coworkers and superiors. Top employees are really good cheerleaders, reinforcing positive behaviors in everyone they touch.

  1. They make others look amazing. Your best employees aren’t the ones clamoring for the spotlight or grabbing all the credit; they’re confident enough to let others shine.

  1. They are problem solvers, not whiners. What more needs to be said?

  1. They make most things seem easy, even when they are not. Over and over again, great employees make things look easy because they do their work with a smile on their face regardless of the circumstances.

  1. They manage obstacles as if they were opportunities. The best ones look at each obstacle as another opportunity to excel and embrace the challenge.

  1. They embody the company’s core values. At the end of the day, the very best employees are walking examples of the company’s value system, allowing everyone else to learn from their example.

In reviewing my top 10, one thing stands out to me—almost all of them are in some way related to a person’s attitude. Great employees have great attitudes. And a great attitude makes a person proactive, aids communication, motivates others, improves workplace morale, makes things seem easy, and allows people to embrace challenges.

Is a great attitude all it takes to succeed? No. But without one, success is much more difficult to come by. Think for a minute about the very best people you work with. How many of them—the ones who really stand out—approach their work with a great attitude? My guess is that most of them do.

And it’s a reminder for each of us that we should do the same.