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Findings from our interviews indicate that HCPs did not feel they were receiving quality communication from leadership, which resulted in frustration, confusion, and a loss of trust. Communication and information-sharing processes during the pandemic were inefficient and inconsistent based on HCPs’ reports. The large surge of emails overwhelmed HCPs who were already struggling with higher workloads and increased work hours. Additionally, the lack of a centralized place for updates made it difficult to determine which protocols were most up-to-date. This, led to inconsistent practice between units. Some HCPs also felt the rationale for decision-making was not being shared with them, which resulted in a mistrust towards decisions made by leadership. In some cases, HCPs turned to other sources (e.g., journal articles, other organizations, CDC, etc.) for more reliable information. Overall, HCPs’ experiences during the pandemic demonstrated a need for more transparent and manageable information-sharing processes in the workplace.

Clear communication was identified as a protective factor against psychological injury in HCPs, specifically during exceptional circumstances such as outbreaks and pandemics. Additionally, HCPs identified that transparent, considerate, and concise communication from leadership could help contribute to a sense of trust, control, and role security during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research insights and recommendationsHCPs’ reportsStrategies for implementation
Be clear, transparent, and consistent in communications with employees. 

HCPs described organizational communication as overwhelming, inconsistent, and/or confusing. The great influx of emails with rapidly changing protocols and procedures caused additional stress and often led to HCPs inability to keep up with protocol updates on days off.
Several HCPs felt that information was often inconsistent, especially between units and organizations. HCPs felt it was difficult to know what protocol was most up-to-date since there was no centralized information centre.

“It’s atrocious. There is not one consistent or centralized information… it’s wildly inconsistent.” (02HCP)
Be transparent, authentic, and concise to reduce confusion and frustration. Ensure messaging is consistent and address inconsistencies with rationale for changes. 

When possible, reduce the influx of messaging by providing summaries of information in a centralized location to make it more manageable to stay updated.
Develop and maintain a centralized place for HCPs to access the most up-to-date information on policies and procedures.

Many HCPs mentioned alternative methods of communication they felt would be helpful (see recommendations). A centralized information source was most requested among HCPs to help reduce confusion and ensure easy access.
HCPs found it difficult to navigate constantly changing protocols and determine the most up-to-date information because several sources were sending updates.

“For example, at the beginning there was a lot of change about what was considered an AGMP—an aerosol-generating medical procedure. And so, we would have units calling us and saying, ‘We have a patient on this type of oxygen, is that an AGMP?’ It was hard to keep track of things and you don’t want to do something that would harm them or harm a patient.” (06HCP)
HCPs provided the following examples of centralized communication:

• A website.

• A bulletin board with printed updates.

• Provide accessible visual representations of new protocols in high traffic areas (e.g., staff room).

• Create a designated resource team responsible for answering questions about current protocol.

• Provide communication at daily huddles to allow for questions and conversation.