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How to Become an Indispensable Employee

by Danielle Foster

According to Merriam-Webster: indispensable is defined as absolutely necessary: ESSENTIAL.

Whether you realize it or not, employees are typically dropped into two buckets by employers; people who employers consider to be indispensable employees and thus essential to running their businesses and those that are not.  During economic difficulties, companies turn to this list to determine who they will let go and who they will retain.

So, how do you get on the indispensable list you may ask?  Be an expert at what you do, volunteer to take the lead on new assignments/tasks and master them and be the go to person that fellow employees flock to when they need help.  If possible, show that you are a positive contributor to the company’s bottom line profitability.  When I consider who at my company is indispensable, I first consider all the roles in my company that they are proficient to perform.  Then I consider, are they the only subject matter expert in a particular area?  Can I trust them comes next. Will they do what they say they will do?  Lastly, I consider what their contribution is to the bottom line profitability of the company.  Just because you are not in a sales role doesn’t mean that you don’t have the ability to impact your company’s bottom line profitability.  For instance, someone who works with vendors and negotiates extra discounts from them is saving the company money and increasing the company’s overall profit.

One of my previous employers never thought of the accounting department as a profit-making center but when I was their accounting manager, I noticed that we charged finance fees that we never collected.  I asked my controller if I could set up a program to collect the funds and for every $1,000 collected, I could have the funds to sponsor a pizza party for the accounting department.  I knew that my accounting clerical team members would be motivated by the party and at the same time I would be able to show the company’s management team, in yet one more way, how I could help generate additional profit to the company.  This company also had a policy of writing off $50,000 – $100,000 in high end product each year that was seemingly lost when inventory counts came in.  By developing a tracking system through my accounting department for the high-end units as they came in and left the company, I was able to know where any of the items went and thus, no more write offs which saved the company $50,000 – $100,000 each year! I became an indispensable part of their team.