TIME Careers & Workplace

6 Things That Define Indispensable Employees

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Sam Edwards—Getty Images/OJO Images RF

An employee survey turned into much more when a set of fascinating themes emerged

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

By Christine Lagorio-Chafkin

Here’s the Danny Meyer school of thought on how to make a traditional service business into an enlightened, customer-centric hospitality mecca: Put your employees first and shareholders last to create a “virtuous cycle of enlightened hospitality.”

That’s lovely and all, but can it really be applied to a startup? It seems a little overwrought.

When Greg Marsh, CEO of Onefinestay, a home-rental startup based in London, set out with his co-founders to survey the hospitality company’s 100 employees more than a year ago, he was looking for insight on the very company he’d built. He and his team didn’t expect to find what they did.

“We listened to their answers and videotaped them all and noted the themes that emerged, and from that discovered a set of truths or behaviors that were fairly universal,” Marsh said.

The behaviors of existing employees helped Onefinestay identify its existing company culture and pinpoint traits it would look for in ideal new hires. Key among the findings was an unusual mix of applied problem solving and natural empathy. Call it the left brain and the right, in harmony.

There was also, in those employee videos, what Marsh calls “a distinctive pattern of drive and raw determination to succeed.”

Onefinestay boiled down the traits it loved in its existing employees to what it has dubbed “The Magic Six.” These traits now serve as motivators for the company’s now more than 500 employees, and a guideline for the culture the company is striving for as it grows.

Want employees who are competent and hard-working, and truly care? Here’s what to seek out and nurture.

1. Fire in the belly.

Take risks. Be determined, be ambitious, and get stuff done.

2. Smart works.

Be practical with your intelligence and apply it wisely.

3. Empathy is your friend.

Understand yours, and others’ feelings and motivations, and act accordingly.

4. Integrity is integral

Earn trust by telling it straight. Honesty gets you a long way.

5. All for all.

We’re all dependent on one another. Be ready to help, and willing to accept help.

6. Remember Alice.

(Yes, this means Alice in Wonderland, the little girl who dreamt she dined with the Mad Hatter, and got advice from a caterpillar). The quirks make us who we are. Embrace them.

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