What Makes an Employee Indispensable?


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Telus Digital Twitter Account

Last week, I attended a conference hosted by the RED Academy and Telus that talked about how we can expect the workforce to change between now and the year 2020 as digitization continues to bring rapid changes to hiring practices, and how we can prepare for that transformation.

The discussion had representatives from Sid Lee, RBC, and Telus present – each sharing their own insights on the paradigm shift in workplace demands.

The main premise of the discussion was outlining traits in an ideal employee that would make them above-average and a perfect fit for the ‘digital’ workforce ahead.

So what makes an employee indispensable? Here’s what they had to say:

Passion and Curiosity

You are not just passionate and enthusiastic for the job, but passionate as a person about life in general. Do you have any interesting hobbies? Maybe you’re the head of your company’s IT department but also an avid scuba diver. Or maybe you’re the director of HR but also an accomplished pianist. Have you worked on a personal project that made some kind of positive impact?

Employers want an interesting person who does interesting things. They want someone who has a never-ending itch for curiosity and an eagerness to learn and be challenged. The same old same old just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Curiosity and passion go hand in hand. When you follow your curiosity, it can open up doors to things you never even realized you cared about. One good point made was that reading on a daily basis will help fuel inspiration- whether it’s scanning the day’s headlines or getting a couple of chapters in of your favourite novel. So tap into your inner world of wonder and you will discover so much more about what you are passionate about.


You are a go-getter. Someone that is proactive, not reactive. You are the change that you want to see happen around you. You are the one that people turn to when something needs to get off the ground because you possess that uncanny ability to rally the right people and bring a project to life.


You run towards fires and are not afraid to take risks. You are fearless and always looking to push the envelope one baby step at a time.

The greatest inventors of our time did not make revolutionary discoveries by just being content and taking things at face value. Alexander Graham Bell‘s curiosity, dedication and innovative thinking is what eventually led to the creation of the telephone – and it goes without saying how far that invention has come along to this day.


You are candid in your work ethic. You don’t bite off more than you can chew and if things do get a little over-whelming, you know when to push the stop button. Taking on way more than you can handle if not a reflection of a good employee. You won’t be perceived as a failure if you need to push back. It just shows that you are human and could simply use some extra help. So if the going gets rough, ask for help.

Also, a good employee is one that is not sensitive to criticism. Instead of taking less-than-favourable feedback to heart, think about the bigger picture and use it as a way of becoming a better worker. That’s what it’s meant for anyway – to help you improve and make you a stronger employee, so instead of going on the defence, learn from it.


You aren’t excessively bubbly or over the top with your workplace banter with fellow colleagues, but you are generally someone that people enjoy interacting with at the office. You come in each day with a persona that positively resonates across the extended team. No one wants to be around a ball of misery. Sure, we all have our bad days, but try your best to keep the woes of your personal life from filtering into the workplace.

If you’re dealing with something particularly difficult that you feel is making it truly hard to put on a happy face at work, then communicate. Let your manager know what’s going on so they can understand, empathize and possibly even help your situation by giving you some time off. If they know the cause of your not-so-happy demeanor, they won’t the draw the wrong conclusions on their own.

The discussion also briefly touched upon hiring practices and resumes.

We’ve all been there – we send in an application and then wonder if it’s gotten lost in space.

One panelist argued, that at least from his perspective, your resume is a reflection of who you are. He went on to say that if you have a lengthy resume of more than a couple of pages, you are viewed as not being articulate and someone who will likely ‘drone’ on during interviews.

I was surprised by this statement.

Yes, resumes absolutely are a reflection of who you are, but the part about the length of the resume suggesting a candidate isn’t well-versed in communicating their credentials on paper, or in person for that matter, was baffling.

Sometimes a longer resume is needed to effectively capture a person’s valuable experience which pertains to the role they are applying for. How would John Smith, a seasoned professional with 30+ years of experience condense everything into two pages? It was definitely a thought-provoking moment to hear this type of feedback from a hiring manager.

To give the benefit of the doubt,  I think perhaps what was meant to be said was that, no matter how long you choose your resume to be, do your best to stay focused and be clear in each of your points – don’t go off track.

Overall, while there was no specific eye-opener in the qualities outlined during the conference, it was important to note that A) these character traits have not become obsolete over the years and are still very relevant, if not more, and B) the insight was coming straight from the horse’s mouth instead of a Google search.

For me, the key takeaway from this discussion was that in order to continue to be sought after and remain indispensable in the next four years and beyond – you simply can’t be a boring. Innovation happens when you follow your curiosity, so get out of your comfort zone, and begin probing, evolving and building yourself as an influencer of change and employers will have a hard time saying no to you.

8 thoughts on “What Makes an Employee Indispensable?

  1. I will try and take some of your advice to heart. I would definitely like to be sought after and I would like to have some influence over the future events.

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