What is Informal Communication in the Workplace?

Communication has always been the key to building great relationships. Be it among individuals, among co-workers or between the boss and the subordinates, having unhindered channels of communication opens up many doors of opportunities. It gives you exposure to different ideas and stories, and fills you up with the zeal to expand your horizons. Effective communication in the organisation has benefits for both employees as well as the organisation. Statistics show that if employees felt appreciated and heard, they would feel 4.6 times more motivated and produce quality work.

There are many categories of communication. The 2 broad categories of communication are formal and informal communication.

Let’s look at both of them in detail.

What is formal communication?

As the name suggests, formal communication is the flow of information in pre-defined and proper channels. The information follows a hierarchical flow and conforms to the organisation’s well-defined official norms and regulations. The communication is on point and is passed with the help of legalised notices, meetings scheduled on specific topics, official reports, letters, reports, emails, to name a few. A proper line of formal communication in organisations is a must as it makes the flow of important information much more effortless.

What is informal communication?

Informal communication is a type of communication that does not follow any hierarchy and flows in any direction without any constraints. Examples of informal communication include off-work get together of employees, communication with families, unconstrained communication between the manager and their subordinate, etc.

What is grapevine communication?

Informal communication is also known as grapevine communication. This is because the information branched out in all directions of the organisation like a grapevine.

Informal or grapevine communication can be segregated into different types given below:

  • Single Strand Chain-

The single strand chain is a type of communication where the information travels in a single chain. Person A says something to B, who says it to C, who passes it on to D, and this goes on and on, and ultimately everyone in an organisation gets to know about the information. As the information passes through different people, the chances of distortion are significantly increased.

  • Gossip Chain-

Here, one person, A, tells the information he has to many people at once. A circle like a figure is formed with the active speaker,  A is in the middle of all other people listening to his messages.

  • Probability Chain-

Here, the communication chain is formed randomly without following any set pattern, unlike the previous two. Here, A can inform B, who can then convey it to many different people. These people can then pass on the information to either a single person or a group of people.

  • Cluster Chain-

Here, one person informs something to his close circle friends, who then convey the same to their circle of selected trustworthy people and so on.

Why is informal communication needed in the workplace?

Informal communication at the workplace has been a topic of debate for a long time. Many employers seem to harbour the view that informal communication in the workplace hampers employees’ productivity, while many others seem to contradict these beliefs and feel that fostering personal relationships with fellow employees break the professional ice and make the work go smoother.

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Here are some points detailing the importance of grapevine communication in the workplace.

  • It makes people comfortable with each other-

When people know each other well, they tend to coordinate better. The positive results of the coordination are visible in the group projects they work upon together. It benefits the organisation in the form of quality output if the employees share a great camaraderie.

  • It gets the work done-

If employees care about each other, they help each other manage their workload. For example, suppose A has to take an expected half-day leave, their good friend, B, can help them with the workload. This gets the work done in time which is beneficial for both the employees and the organisation. Also, it instils a sense of having a support system in employees, which increases the company’s retention rate.

  • Boosts the morale of employees-

Friendships can be formed irrespective of professional seniority. When employees at the junior level feel demotivated or overburdened, their experienced friends give them valuable advice to make them feel better.

  • Valuable feedback-

Having friends at the workplace leads to professional self-improvement. Friends can give each other honest opinions and feedback on the work performed, which will help them work upon the shortcomings and improve.

  • Saves time-

The flow of information through formal channels takes time and delays the process. If the information can be communicated informally first, it leads to faster action of employees and completion of work earlier. Informal communication is much quicker than formal communication in this regard.

  • Increases productivity-

Working with people you know well and are comfortable with makes the job comparatively easy. It instils a sense of belongingness in employees, making them happier and more productive.

  • Has a positive impact on the mental health of employees-

Employees don’t feel as burdened by work as they have their friends around them. They can take a breather from work during coffee or lunchtime and talk with their friends. This helps them have an excellent work-life balance and hence good mental health.

Companies are becoming aware of the need of having a conducive, stress-free environment for the employees to work in. Hence, many professional avenues are being created for the sole purpose of creating a positive work culture in the organisations, one of which is human and resource management.

If you are interested in making a career in human resource management, you can check out the Executive Post-Graduate Programme in Human Resource Management offered by Loyola Institute of Business Administration, the third-ranked college in the country in association with upGrad. You will get access to live classes, practical projects, case studies and doubt clearing sessions. Additionally, you will also get the benefits of the vast alumni network of the Loyola Institute of Business Administration. The course will help you gain knowledge in the field of  Human Resource Management and provide you with great opportunities in the area.

Communication has always been the solution to interpersonal problems. It saves time, effort and energy for the parties involved. Companies have now realised the power of informal communication in fostering relationships between employees. It increases employee retention and thus helps the companies in enhancing the revenue. The career path of Human Resource Management has enormous potential, and the employment opportunities in the field will only increase in the coming years.

What is the average salary of human resource managers?

The average salary of a human resource manager is INR 8 LPA. This number significantly varies according to job location, company and experience.

What is the scope of human resource management in future?

Human resource management as a career as a bright scope. The employment rate of Human Resource Managers is expected to grow at the rate of 9 per cent from 2020 to 2030.

What are different types of communication?

There are 4 types of communication, namely, verbal, non-verbal, written and visual.

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