Significance of Formal and Informal Communication in the Workplace


Communication plays an essential role in every walk of life. It helps people to interchange ideas, feelings, and opinions. Formal communication passes through predefined channels within an organization, whereas informal communication happens freely in every direction, and information does not flow through any channel. It can be in any form, whether verbal, spoken, written, or non-verbal. For example, under formal communication, if an employee needs to make a grievance, request, complaint, application, etc., they cannot directly contact the company’s CEO. They need to go through a channel to approve their grievance or request. Under informal communication, employees can directly contact the managers without undergoing a process, such as a talking group, etc.

What is Informal Communication

The informal mode of communication does not follow any predefined channel. The information does not transfer in a specific chain, and the movement of information is free. Such communications involve conversations on feelings, casual discussion, etc. It is a natural type of conversation involving personal and professional life interaction.

Types of Informal Communication

There are numerous types of informal communication. Employees can use it to communicate about critical business issues, share things from their personal life, or build workplace bonding. The four types of informal communication are gossip chain, cluster chain, probability chain, and single-strand chain.

Gossip Chain

Gossip chain communication happens when a worker tells personal or professional things to a group of people. Then this information is passed on to another group of people, and so on. This way, the information gets transferred to everyone.

Single Strand

Single strand communication happens when one worker tells the other worker, who then shares it with another person. This way, the information process goes on from one person to the other in an organization. It is a single mode of communication.

Probability Chain

A probability chain is a type of communication that happens when a worker randomly chooses the co-worker to pass information of little importance or may be irrelevant.

Cluster Chain

A cluster chain is a type of communication that happens when a single co-worker gives some information to the most trusted co-workers, and these co-workers then pass this information to their most trustworthy friends and so on. This way, the communication continues.

How does Informal Communication Benefit an Organization

An informal mode of communication is a faster way of transmitting information as it carries more information. The purpose is to share information, build workplace bonding and friendships, resolve conflicts, and escape work monotony. Since employees share the same workplace, they discuss their workplace and family affairs. Informal communication develops social relationships, builds unity, integrity, and solidarity among co-workers, and boosts morale.

What is Formal Communication

Formal communication is a timely and systematic exchange of official information between co-workers through a channel. It flows through a hierarchy and in a predefined manner. It is controlled and conforms to the rules and policies of the organization. Formal communication is a chain of command that is a top-down communication method between an employee and the management.

Types of Formal Communication

Different types of formal communication occur in an organization, varying on the purpose, place, and context of communication. The different types are downward communication, upward communication, horizontal or lateral communication, and diagonal communication.

Downward Communication

Downward communication is a type of communication where information passes from a higher or management level to the employee or subordinate position. It is a type of formal communication where information flows downward from the workers at higher ranks to the employees at lower ranks. Such information is primarily orders and instructions. It is in written or oral forms, depending on the importance of the message and position of the organization. Emails, manuals, etc., are modes of communication.

Upward Communication

The upward communication mode happens when information transfer occurs from the lower level to the upper deck or from the subordinate to the managerial level. The information communicated is mostly a request, grievances, suggestions, feedback, applications, etc.

Horizontal or Lateral Communication

Horizontal or lateral communication happens between co-workers from different departments. It means that the co-workers with varying areas of responsibilities but at the same level in the organization share information. For example, we can take the communication between the team lead of different departments, such as production, finance, marketing, etc.

Diagonal or Crosswise Communication

It is a type of communication between the workers at different levels and positions in an organization. When information passes through such a level irrespective of the chain of command, it is called diagonal communication. For example, a software engineer discussing a project with a content writer is called crosswise communication.

The Advantages of Formal Communication

The advantages of formal communication are:

  • Maintaining authority at the office – Formal communication maintains the dignity in the relationship of the superiors and the subordinates. It makes it easy for the management to fix the employees’ responsibility at a lower level, needed for effective and successful control.
  • Clear and effective communication- Direct communication between the management and the employee helps effectively convey information. 
  • The flow of information in a systematic manner- Formal mode of communication helps in the systematic and orderly flow of information from one person to the other.

Primary Differences between Formal and Informal Communication

Primary differences between formal and informal communication are:

  • Formal communication is orderly and primarily written, whereas informal communication does not follow an order and mostly happens orally.
  • Formal communication is also called official communication, whereas informal communication is also called the grapevine.
  • Formal communication is confidential, whereas informal communication is not confidential.
  • Formal communication is time-consuming, whereas informal communication is rapid.
  • Formal communication is more reliable than informal mode of communication.

Maintaining a Balance between Formal and Informal Communication

An adequate balance of formal and informal communication is crucial for running a business. The best way to balance formal and informal modes of communication is by declaring the preferred method of information. Companies can prepare a policy on what can be shared formally and informally. For example, business updates, meeting invitations, etc., are formal communication modes. Informal communication is for feedback, praise, redirection, grievance, etc. Backing up informal communication with formal communication ensures essential information doesn’t get lost.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the importance of communication in an organization?

The importance of communication in an organization can be summarized as follows:
Communication promotes motivation by informing and clarifying the employees about the task.
Communication is a source of information to help in the decision-making process.
Communication also plays a crucial role in altering an individual’s attitudes.
Communication also helps in socializing by decreasing the monotony.
Communication also assists in controlling the process.

What are sourcing Tools?

Sourcing tools are crucial to see if a candidate fits into the position or not. To choose whom to hire, assess the candidates on two essential things:
Skills: Resumes give a clear idea of the experience but do not show if the candidate possesses the necessary skills for a particular job role. 
Personality: It is essential to know if the candidate is the right fit for the company’s culture or not.
In such a situation, software like BambooHR and GreenTeam help create skill and personality-based tests to help the hiring manager make the right decision about their hiring.

How to find the best ATS for effective hiring?

When choosing an ATS for any organization, one should consider certain things; An ATS should be user-friendly and well-integrated. It should be free of any hiring bias and cost-effective. A proper ATS helps better analyze, track, and strategize the talent acquisition process. PyjamaHR shines with collaborative features, interview scheduling, data handling, and providing the best assessments. Its intuitive interface simplifies how an organization source, manages and hires candidates.

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