There are many forums on the web which offer services which are performed by staff on the forum. These services are usually reviews, posting on members forums and graphics. They are created so that forum owners can help each other to improve their forums and increase activity. 95% of the time these positions are voluntary and those working as service staff are only rewarded through forum currency. For this reason there is usually a high turnover when it comes to forum staff and it can prove very difficult to hire staff. There are various methods used to tackle these issues yet very few forums seem to succeed in keeping their staff around.

Often staff members are divided into teams where each team is responsible for a certain service. Team members are rewarded commission based, meaning they are paid in forum currency for each individual service they complete. This is a good way of motivating staff to do the job they have agreed to do, but only if the forum currency they are being rewarded with has a value to them. A common problem is that the staff member in question doesn’t have anything to spend the forum currency on meaning they lose motivation to do the job. This is something a lot of administrators overlook and something which can easily be avoided.

Many large forums offer deals such as domains in exchange for forum currency. This can quickly become expensive if offered to the whole community, especially on a small community but nothing stops you offering this to your service staff only. When they have earned enough forum currency they can exchange it for a domain, hosting or why not a gift voucher at Amazon?  Not everything needs to be forum related! Another advantage of only offering this to staff is that it will motivate people to apply for the service teams.

Another common issue which arises is service staff getting bored of the job they are doing. This is completely understandable as they are doing the same thing every day. A review of a forum can only vary to a certain extent and creating 5 avatars a day is very limiting in terms of creativity. One way of tackling this issue would be to have one large service team instead of individual teams. This means team members could vary the work they do while still being able to do what they are good at. This risk with this is that certain services will get more attention than others which would mean you would need a good team leader to manage the team. If you had a very large team maybe even 2 or 3 team leaders working together would be helpful.

If having one big service team isn’t for you another option would be to have an open moving system between staff teams. This would mean that, upon agreement of team leaders, staff members can easily move between teams. Leaving moving completely open wouldn’t work as there would be a risk of leaving a team understaffed but being flexible shows your staff that you appreciate them. If you opt for this it would be good for all team leaders to discuss hiring members together. This would mean that all team leaders are ok with all the staff members, avoiding friction if team members request to move between teams.

As the job is voluntary all extras are welcomed by people looking to work as service staff on forums. Offering them something in return, however small, shows that you appreciate the hard work they are putting in. A PM on their birthday and on large holidays or a post in the staff room is more appreciated than you would believe. Asking opinions when you are going to make a change to the forum shows that you are interested in what they have to say and trust them. Keeping service staff is hard and all added extras will help you to keep hold of them. Value your staff, they are the people who will help you make your forum succeed.

  • Quacker Jack

    Great article, Annika. You made several valid points. I used to be a part of a posting team at a large forum, and I can attest to losing motivation at several points throughout my career with them. After a while, the job can get a tedious and boring. Bonuses, however, such as forum currency, can really make a difference in keeping your staff motivated. The key is though is to make sure users can actually do something with that currency. It worked out well in my case, though, as I bought a domain with the forum currency! Great points!

  • milksheikh

    I really like the main parts and points you pointed out in this article.

    I will keep these in mind when doing so next time.

  • webbyman12

    I think staffing services are great.

    The staff tries to provide services for the members to take part in.

  • Origami Crane

    I think that services on forums are a great way to get members, but I agree that it becomes hard to keep staff. The gift cards for forum currency for staff is a great idea. I think that more forums should do that.

  • adam23

    I think that is pretty cool.

    Staff help alot nowadays!

  • freelance42

    I think having service teams are awesome!

    I have some on my forum as well.

  • FlammyX3

    I have a service team for my forum, but it is hard to find people who would do the work for free, I am currently paying them with real cash.