September 7, 2022 | « back

FORBES.COM — Business Lessons Learned From James Taylor

By Roberta Matuson

This past Tuesday night, I saw James Taylor and his All-Star Band play at the brand-new MGM Music Hall at Fenway Park. What a venue and what a performance. Here are some business lessons I took away from Tuesday night’s show.

Shower the people with what they want. Taylor’s show was chock full of hits from years ago, which is probably no surprise given that he has enough hits to fill two shows. In a recent television interview with Steven Colbert, Taylor was asked if he ever thought about playing a hipper version of some of his oldies. He responded by saying that the fans are coming to hear the songs they know. Not some jacked-up version of a song they remember.

As business leaders, sometimes we lose sight of why our customers do business with us or why employees choose to work at our firm. To keep up with the latest trends, we may instead shoot ourselves in the foot.

For example, some high-profile companies are now pulling back on maternity and paternity leave. A study recently conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management found that employers offering paid maternity leave beyond what is required by law dropped to 35% this year, down from 53% in 2020. Companies are also downsizing paternity-leave programs. The share of employers giving paid paternity time off fell to 27% in 2022, from 44% in 2020, the SHRM survey found.

No doubt other companies will soon be doing the same, thinking this new trend is worth following. Do so at your own peril, as employees feel more stressed at work than ever. Cutting back this important benefit that many treasure will surely increase employee turnover.

Age is just a number. Taylor is 74 years old and is still going strong. His voice is as good as it was fifty years ago. I’m sure some people would argue that a 74-year-old man should no longer be on stage. Tell that to his highly talented All-Star Band, whose members included “seasoned” musicians who may have been older than Taylor.

Why is it that when people reach a certain age, they are no longer considered desirable by many organizations? People always reach out to me seeking advice on overcoming age discrimination in the workplace. Their concerns are real.

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Here in the U.S., we currently have 11.2M jobs, which, indeed, some of these older workers are qualified to fill. So why aren’t we giving more consideration to seasoned workers? Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who is 45 years old, is considered ancient in the football world, yet his performance is still something to see.

It’s time for companies to focus more on the results an employee achieves and less time worrying about their age.

Family matters-James Taylor has finally figured out the key to work-life balance. His family is part of his tour. Both his wife and son are backup singers.

Employees today are left on their own to figure out how to balance work and their personal lives, which may help to explain why today’s workers are more stressed than ever.

Work-life balance policies aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on if employees don’t feel comfortable taking advantage of these policies. Leaders need to set the standard.

For example, leaders leaving work at a reasonable hour, signals to others that they should do so. More transparency on shared calendars will also help shift the tides. Rather than blocking out your calendar with fake meetings, note that you are unavailable due to a family obligation.

When creating after-work events to celebrate employees, consider inviting family members to participate as well.

Allow employees to work from home when needed.

Encourage vacation time even if that means mandating paid time off.

Making work-life balance a priority for your employees can significantly increase employee satisfaction, productivity, and your company’s reputation in the marketplace. So, why not try some of the examples above and realize the rewards?

As for me, perhaps the most important lesson I took away from Tuesday’s performance is that when you love what you do there is no reason to ever retire, as long as you’re still on top of your game!