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The Empuls Glossary

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Informal Communication

Informal communication in the workplace encompasses the instant exchange of ideas, information and messages among coworkers. Informal communication is a natural and essential part of any organization or workplace, as it fosters camaraderie, social connections, and a sense of belonging.

What is informal communication?

Informal communication is casual communication between coworkers. It complements formal communication and enhances work relationships across the organization, and promotes open dialogue, sharing insights, and strong relationship building.

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What are the ways of doing informal communication?

Some of the ways informal communication can take place in the workplace are as follows:

  1. Casual conversations
  2. Team building activities
  3. Collaborative workspaces
  4. Social events
  5. Informal meetings
  6. Mentorship and peer support
  1. Casual conversations: Informal discussions take place during breaks, before and after meetings, or while transitioning between tasks, as these on-the-spot conversations allow team members to communicate on a personal level, and discuss work-related issues.
  2. Team building activities: Team-building activities events and activities offer employees opportunities to communicate in a relaxed and fun environment as these activities can involve sports events, brunches, team outings or activities, all of which encourage open communication and strengthen team bonds.
  3. Collaborative workspaces: Open office layouts and collaborative workspaces allow spontaneous interactions and informal communication between colleagues. These environments facilitate accessible communication and collaboration of ideas without the need for formal meetings.
  4. Social events: Work-sponsored social events and get-togethers provide employees with opportunities to connect on a personal level and strengthen relationships beyond work-related interactions.
  5. Informal meetings: Informal meetings can occur spontaneously or scheduled without a strict agenda or formal structure. These meetings offer a more relaxed setting for brainstorming, problem-solving, and sharing updates among team members.
  6. Mentorship and peer support: Informal mentorship and peer support relationships allow employees to seek guidance, advice and feedback from more experienced colleagues.

What are types of informal communication?

Different types of informal communication are as follows:

  1. Single strand
  2. Probability chain
  3. Gossip chain
  4. Cluster chain
  1. Single strand: In the single-strand communication pattern, information is passed from one person to another in linear sequences, resembling a chain, as this straightforward approach ensures that knowledge is relayed consistently along the chain of a solo person.
  2. Probability chain: In the probability chain communication pattern, information is conveyed from one person to another based on the likelihood of that person being interested, and this approach optimizes the relevance of information shared among individuals.
  3. Gossip chain: A gossip chain involves the non-linear transmission of information from one person to another, often through gossip or rumors. This pattern can lead to the rapid spread of data but may also result in the distortion of the original message.
  4. Cluster chain: A cluster chain occurs when information circulates within a closely connected group of individuals, like a team or a specific department. This communication pattern fosters efficient information-sharing and relationship-building within the group, but it may also lead to limited exposure and groupthink.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of informal communication?

The advantages of informal communication:

  1. Quick and effective communication
  2. Enhanced employee engagement
  3. Flexibility and adaptability
  4. Open dialogue
  1. Quick and effective communication: Informal communication methods, like instant messaging, facilitate rapid information exchange, making it easier for employees to seek clarifications, share updates, and collaborate in real-time.
  2. Enhanced employee engagement: Better employee engagement allows employees to feel more comfortable when communicating informally, leading to increased job satisfaction and favorable work landscape.
  3. Flexibility and adaptability: Informal communication channels are flexible and adaptable to the needs of individuals included, making it easier to adjust the communication style based on the context and relationship.
  4. Open dialogue: Informal communication encourages open discussion and free-flowing conversations, allowing employees to share ideas, feedback, and concerns.

The disadvantages of informal communication:

  1. Potential misunderstandings
  2. Rumors and gossip
  3. Lack of accountability
  1. Potential misunderstandings: Informal communication can lack the clarity and format of formal channels, which may lead to misunderstandings, misinterpretations and the spread of inaccurate information.
  2. Rumors and gossip: Informal communication, particularly gossip chains, can lead to split rumors and unfounded information, potentially causing disruptions and negatively impacting morale.

Lack of accountability: Informal communication may not hold individuals accountable for the information they share, potentially leading to irresponsible or unreliable communication practices.

Why is informal communication important in an organization?

Informal communication is essential in an organization for several reasons:

  1. Enhances employee engagement
  2. Foster team spirit
  3. Encourages open dialogue
  4. Support knowledge sharing
  5. Strengthens relationships with leadership
  6. Boost employee morale
  1. Enhances employee engagement: When employees feel comfortable engaging in informal communication, they are more likely to actively participate in discussions, share ideas, and contribute to the organization’s goals.
  2. Foster team spirit: Informal communication encourages employees to connect on a personal level, building trust and camaraderie within the organization. This sense of belonging fosters a favorable work landscape and promotes teamwork.
  3. Encourages open dialogue: Informal communication allows for more open and honest discussions. Employees may feel less constrained by formalities and hierarchies, making it easier to express their thoughts and concerns.
  4. Support knowledge sharing: Through informal communication, employees can share knowledge and best activities with one another. This information learning helps in the professional development of overall organizational understanding.
  5. Strengthens relationships with leadership: Informal communication bridges the gap between employees and leadership. When leaders participate in informal conversations, it creates a more approachable work culture.
  6. Boost employee morale: Informal communication allows employees to boost morale, celebrate successes, acknowledge achievements, and provide positive feedback to one another. This boosts confidence and develops a positive and motivating work environment.

How can informal communication be effectively used?

Informal communication can be used effectively by following strategies:

  1. Recognize and value informal channels
  2. Balance formal and informal communication
  3. Use technology wisely
  4. Encourage face-to-face interactions
  5. Set clear communication expectations
  1. Recognize and value informal channels: Acknowledge the importance of informal communication and its role in building relationships and foster collaboration. Avoid dismissing informal exchanges as irrelevant and encourage their use when appropriate.
  2. Balance formal and informal communication: While informal communication is valuable, it should complement proper communication. Ensure that critical information is also shared through official communication to maintain accuracy.
  3. Use technology wisely: Leverage technology to enhance informal communication. Instant messaging platforms, collaborative tools, and social media groups can facilitate quick and efficient work among team members.
  4. Encourage face-to-face interactions: While technology is valuable, encourage face-to-face interactions whenever possible. In-person communication allows for non-verbal cues and relationships.
  5. Set clear communication expectations: Clarify the boundaries of informal communication and allow guidelines on when it is appropriate to use informal channels versus formal channels.

Employee pulse surveys:

These are short surveys that can be sent frequently to check what your employees think about an issue quickly. The survey comprises fewer questions (not more than 10) to get the information quickly. These can be administered at regular intervals (monthly/weekly/quarterly).

One-on-one meetings:

Having periodic, hour-long meetings for an informal chat with every team member is an excellent way to get a true sense of what’s happening with them. Since it is a safe and private conversation, it helps you get better details about an issue.


eNPS (employee Net Promoter score) is one of the simplest yet effective ways to assess your employee's opinion of your company. It includes one intriguing question that gauges loyalty. An example of eNPS questions include: How likely are you to recommend our company to others? Employees respond to the eNPS survey on a scale of 1-10, where 10 denotes they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend the company and 1 signifies they are ‘highly unlikely’ to recommend it.

Based on the responses, employees can be placed in three different categories:

  • Promoters
    Employees who have responded positively or agreed.
  • Detractors
    Employees who have reacted negatively or disagreed.
  • Passives
    Employees who have stayed neutral with their responses.

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