Happy Mom Feature Monday!
Today we are featuring Melissa Nicholson, mom and entrepreneur. CEO & Founder of Work Muse, a job share solutions firm. Melissa, too, is passionate about helping moms juggle spending time with her family and continuing her career.
See Melissa’s (almost) full blog post below. We saved the productivity hacks for the Prowess Project Tribe. For more hacks, resources and camaraderie, check out the tribe.
What have you done, where are you from, what do you want us to know about your past?
My background includes five years as co-founder of a film company and fourteen as a marketing and sales professional in the radio industry including nearly a decade of practical hands-on experience job sharing. I first learned about job sharing in my first job after college when our female General Manager green-lit the first Austin media job share team.
After my time in the film industry, I returned to radio as my husband and I began planning for a family, knowing the field offered the opportunity to job share. I felt if I could prove myself, I had a shot—the managers were all middle-aged men with stay-at-home wives who liked the traditional 9-5. There was a company buyout when I was on maternity leave and I returned to an innovative company with job share policies—it was night and day. After returning from maternity leave, my new manager who’d worked with top-performing job sharers (and was expecting twins himself), proposed the work practice. My daughter was six months old at the time, and working five days a week with the demands of motherhood and my fast-paced job left me feeling like a failure at each. Job sharing was a game-changer for our entire family. It allowed me to be a top-performing leader while working three days a week with a supportive partner.
Tell us about your company and your vision
After nearly a decade at my company job sharing with several incredible and talented partners, I was ready for a new challenge and a career shift. While companies were open to some flexibility, like working remotely one day a week, I hit a wall when it came to job sharing. Companies lacked education, resources, or policies to support job share programs. I dove into the research which corroborated my first-hand experience that job sharers were among the most productive, most loyal, and happiest employees and job sharing, an underutilized practice to recruit and retain diverse talent. I found the main barrier to adoption is no training or support for employees or employers, and Work Muse was born.
When I started Work Muse, my goal was to spread job sharing for everyone. It was the elusive win-win-win for career-self-family in our 24/7 work world that most have never even heard of. And it is for everyone, but I now see with clarity that job sharing can also be part of the solution for gender equity, giving caregivers an alternative to dropping back or falling back in their careers—a way to excel at work (over 70% of job sharers are promoted as a team!) with a supportive partner and the flexibility they need.
Work Muse drives adoption of job sharing as a competitive advantage for businesses while individuals find work-life balance. We work with companies to design, implement, and support job share programs and empower individuals to create rewarding job shares through workshops, coaching, and soon online education.
We’re also building a community of like-minded folks who value work-life balance and flexibility to encourage partner connections, job share opportunities, with free connected lessons at Job Share, Live Life + Slay Work and a community for businesses leaders wanting to learn more with Job Sharing for Work-Life Balance.
What do you wish that your coworkers/team members knew about your work style?
I love working in small teams and while my personality is open and outgoing, I become a focused task-master when it comes to work. I love marking items off my list and helping people solve problems. I thrive off helping the incredible humans—many of them women—whom are navigating career transitions and am inspired by their courage, wisdom, and grit.
If you could bring attention to one thing that women deal with juggling kids and career that goes unnoticed or unthanked, what would it be?
This drives me insane… It’s household chore management and the unpaid work women are saddled with which have the least amount to do how human beings actually turn out. Peruse the Bureau of Labor Statistics data and simmer. Changing deeply held traditional norms is not easy and women should have discussions early and often with their partners, especially around the mental time zap of activities like arranging play dates, buying birthday gifts, planning parties, volunteering at the school etc. Many men are speaking up and playing a more active role in co-parenting, but they also need to step up and lean-in to taking parental leave, working flexibly, and emphasizing they are an equal household manager when it comes to school, after-school, and activity sign-ups for babies through big kids.
Why did Prowess Project resonate with you?
Women helping women while helping businesses is good business. I love the business solution Prowess Project provides with an educated, savvy talent pool that many overlook. It’s uplifting that you began your talent solution by valuing the mad mom skills women who’ve taken breaks have developed. Women do the most important societal work of caring for children or aging parents—and up to 90% of caregivers to aging parents in the U.S. are women. And I love that you help them upskill them, take some of the work out of finding a job that offers the flexibility you need, and relaunch them while helping small businesses work more effectively. I have friends who’ve taken big career breaks (one with two sets of twins!) and we guide women as they create job share arrangements, an incredible way to relaunch with the built-in professional development of a partner and the flexibility they likely still need. So I’ve seen first-hand how frustrating and hard it is to do, especially for women entering their forties who may experience age discrimination on top of the stigma taking a career break brings.