How to Make Yourself Indispensible

During good economic times or bad, most companies find a way to hold onto their best or key players. Expendable employees are just that….expendable. When a company wants or needs to trim costs, they are the first to go. Yet there are some individuals in a company who seem bullet proof. They weather any storm, seem to always be advancing and earn more money. It appears that the company just can’t live without them. They are indispensable! One thing for certain is that all businesses need the best work possible from their employees.

Skills, experience, and attitude make up the differences between an employee who is viewed as indispensable and one who is not. While there are many words written about what makes someone a better or ideal employee, the few skills, experiences, and attitudes we will mention here certainly are not the last words, hopefully just some good words that will help you understand what can make you indispensable.

Assuming that you have a high level of expertise in the core competencies of your job, here are other skills, character traits, and attitudes that will keep you employed and climbing.


Health is a key to reliability. Frequent absences or poor performance related to neglected health puts you on the short list when it is time to promote someone or downsize. Poor health is generally related too poor eating habits and lack of exercise. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 25% of the population are essentially inactive. Researchers believe this combined with poor eating habits are the root cause of most health related absences.


A recent survey of CEOs found that 85% of the respondents ranked employee loyalty first among traits in valued employees. The reason? Most surveyed found that it was in the shortest supply among their staff. Loyalty can be demonstrated through performance and attitude. You project loyalty by consistently producing at peak performance, by carrying out instructions as best you can, by disagreeing civally and when you have been overruled, doing the job the way the boss wants you to. In short, loyalty can be demonstrated through performance and attitude. Don’t gripe about your job or denigrate the front office, no matter how much you may dislike one or disagree with the other. Remember you are being paid to do a job and doing it competently and without overt cynicism makes you indispensable.


Employees who can get things done are highly prized in any organization. “Can Do” people rarely turn down a project and always do the job with care and with a deliberate sense of urgency. (Remember: New challenges develop your expertise.) “Can Do” employees make a point of developing cross functional capabilities and can step in for others when the need arises. Another trait is innovation. “Can Do” people look for creative solutions and today creative thinking is more than a desirable trait. One other key to becoming indispensable is to maintain an optimistic outlook. Optimists, according to one study, accomplish more and are more dependable.


Nobody said life is fair. Let’s face it, some people just have more to work with than others and while not a hard fast rule, some studies point to a relationship between trim, athletic and physically fit appearances and success. The word here however is to make sure to get the most out of what you’ve got. While not all of us are fortunate to be an Adonis or a Venus, we really don’t need to be either. Make the best of how you dress by knowing what styles suit you best. Learn what sets off your good points and what hides your flaws. Appearance can count for and against you. Companies generally have an acceptable style. Dress to fit in. The perception of whether or not you belong has more to do with appearance than you might think.


All employers want employees with good communication skills. The first key to good communication is developing the ability to listen. Other simple rules of the road: Don’t waste time with idle chitchat. Business communications should be accurate and brief. Perhaps the most damaging error in communication skills is losing your cool. It is hard to sound like someone in control when you raise your voice or lose your cool. Equally damaging is whining. It is the kiss of death. No matter how justified your complaints may be, no boss wants to hear your cry. Communication is a developed skill. If you want to be indispensable, read, study, and develop yourself in this area.


Integrity is essential to acceptance. Without trust, an individual has no credibility and acceptance disintegrates quickly. Integrity is a two way street. In an organization of more than two individuals, there are bound to be differences of opinion. The ability to stay focused on issues and remain impersonal keeps you from appearing to question personal integrity. It is not as difficult as you might think to be genuinely caring and to have a sincere warmth about yourself that makes you an employee everyone wants. A simple way to gain acceptance is to be Kevin Costner playing Robin Hood, not Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian. Offering to help colleagues pays off later.

Most of the skills, experience, and attitudes we have been reviewing are skills that can be sharpened, learned, or developed. They are the differences that take someone with a high level of expertise in core competencies of the job to being more than a good employee. They are the difference between an indispensable employee and someone your employer may be able to do without.