the age of empowered talentThe age of empowered talent has begun.

And the most surprising factor in the dawn of the new age is this:

According to The Conference Board, 2020 marked a first-time decline in the number of working-age Americans.

Causes for the decline are many; the pandemic took hundreds of thousands of workers’ lives and forced others to disengage from active work over a lack of child care and other resources. Many others decided that they wanted to work independently, and to have more time in the day for non-work activities.

Factors like these have created powerful economic changes, providing Americans millions more jobs to pursue than there are active workers to take them.

In 2021, with the conditions favoring talent more than hiring managers, millions of American workers will finally enjoy career-upside.

Here’s why we believe that the age of empowered talent has begun:

  1. Hiring managers lack the professional talent pools that they need to fill open jobs. Given that, they are now willing to go to great lengths to skill and train new hires. This is not a new thing; until the late 1970s, hiring managers typically invested in broad scale worker training.
  2. Hiring managers are increasingly supportive of work from anywhere. That means that people who used to commute to a co-location will now have opportunities to work remotely during some or all of the work week.
  3. Hiring managers are beginning to hear the voice of the worker. That means they are providing hired talent more project management opportunities. It also means that they are “checking in” more to make sure their people are doing well in their lives outside of work.
  4. People who work are branding themselves according to their unique value propositions. Before, the value of talent appeared through the hiring manager’s lens. But now, people who work can, through positive talent branding, achieve more control of their career outcomes.
  5. People now treat work as something done during the day, not the entire day. And with that, the day gets intentionally broken up between work and non-work activities. Missions and work requirements still get fulfilled, but work gets done across more day parts than the straight 8 hours or more that had been just for work. To that end, professional talent are using top-line project management skillsets to achieve success.

However, there is a downside to the age of empowered talent.

Some sectors, specifically healthcare, won’t have enough talent to care for an aging population. And, no one wants to be cared for by a robot. So, to solve this problem, we will need to open immigration to millions of health care professionals.

But, this is clear: a growing share of the American workforce will enjoy greater opportunities to do skilled work; they will feel more empowered on the job; and, live better, healthier, and more enjoyable lives doing work as part of the day and not the entire day.

Because the age of empowered talent is here, our best days lie ahead.

The Dan Smolen PodcastPlease Subscribe to The Dan Smolen Podcast on:

Apple Podcast


Google Podcasts





…or wherever you get your podcasts.

You may also click HERE to receive our podcast episodes by email.

Image credits: Worker with bicycle, nd3000 for iStock Photo; Podcast button, J. Brandt Studio for The Dan Smolen Experience.