Moderating the Moderators – The future of emotional labour
Digital content moderation is [finally!] being recognised as an integral part of a company’s overall success – from social media presence, to customer relations, to overall brand vision and reputation. Because of its necessity, moderation has become a career path in and of itself; one can now complete online training programmes to become a certified moderator; and university degrees in Social Media, Marketing and Communication have coursework on moderation theory and practice.
With all of these positive advancements in the profession, recent studies have revealed that moderation is a high-stress, high-stakes role – one which requires intense resilience and emotional strength. Keeping our internet experience clean is tough work; which includes removal of content that we don’t want to think about, let alone experience. Moderators do this work all day, every day and the job doesn’t stop at removing ‘f-bombs’. We know the internet can bring out the worst in humanity, and moderators are the ones we rely on to diffuse arguments, monitor and report dangerous behaviour, and deal with those pesky ‘f-bombs’. In addition, moderators are also expected to keep calm and carry on.
In the past 24 months, both Facebook and Microsoft have been sued by former moderators for not taking appropriate steps to ensure their emotional and mental well-being. While the images and content described in the lawsuit are extreme, and perhaps even rare for most communities, the fact remains that the job requires exposure to every form of negative and damaging content. This can result in compassion fatigue, emotional trauma, depression, and worse.
The final outcome of the lawsuits has yet to be determined. However if history tells us anything, new policies on mental/emotional safety may become law, similar to what is already in place should an employee fall victim to physical harm while on the job.
What can you do?
As a leader, you genuinely want to do the right thing by your employees. Therefore, keeping them safe both physically, and mentally, is a top priority for you and your Human Resources department. Here are a few best practices to consider:
- Employ somebody in HR that understands the job – we suggest at least one nominated individual who will take on the responsibility, depending on the size of your company. If you are short of internal resources, use an experienced HR outsource such as MabelHR. Require the team to meet with the department on a regular basis.
- Create mandatory break times away from moderating content altogether. Working on other projects is highly recommended; whether it’s handling customer service calls, or helping out elsewhere.
- Have an ‘Employee Assistance Program’. It should offer anonymous, free, online psychological support including therapy 24/7
- Support your Moderation Management team with special training on how to recognise somebody who may be experiencing PTSD, trauma, or compassion fatigue.
- Ensure your vendor has processes in place for their team. At StrawberrySocial, not only do we have special team training, but we also ensure management are able to recognise burnout and have a system in place to offer our team the support they require. This ensures we take necessary steps to protect our most precious asset – our moderators.
- When interviewing potential team members, be sure to explain the job in detail. They should be well aware of the risks, and be strongly resilient. This should not deter you from creating in-house safety procedures, but it can help with attrition.
Remember – moderators and moderation as a profession should be valued throughout your organisation. This team not only protects your brand, but your customers as well. They deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and care so that they can deliver top quality performances for you, day in, and day out.