It is crucial that this decision, and the communications surrounding it, be handled in a well-planned and systematic fashion. Just today, our manager walked into the office that five of us share and stated that a sixth person would be joining us. I have learned that change is constant in our department, and people are shuffled all over as space permits; however, one of my office-mates angrily said, “he really could have told us before bringing in the sixth person and announcing that she would be joining us”. It was a good example of how staff feel about poor communication.
Moreland and Apker (2016) note that nurses feel excluded when leaders inconsistently communicate policies and don’t invite feedback or input into decision-making. Therefore, as the nurse administrator, I would prepare a plan to communicate the difficult decision to eliminate tuition reimbursement benefits.
First, I would explore the reasons why the decision was made. Was it cost-prohibitive to maintain? Did staff obtain tuition reimbursements, only to leave as soon as they received their BSN or MSN? Did it engender annoyance from staff who already had their degrees and could not take advantage of the benefit? I believe that transparency is best when communicating a change in policy.
Next, I would do my best to inform all direct reports at the same time, perhaps in a meeting. There are few things worse in an organization than for the information to get “leaked” by a few people, and then turn into a rumor with untruths.
Before I tell the direct reports, I would have an email/text/snail mail document prepared, so that all staff could receive it before the rumor mill starts. Having a written form of communication allows me to control the message and get all the pertinent points noted. The document would end with an invitation for all staff to contact me if they have any questions or comments. Being accessible to staff would, I hope, create some good feelings to offset the loss of tuition reimbursement.