To read this content please select one of the options below:

Informal communication in organizations: work time wasted at the water-cooler or crucial exchange among co-workers?

Thomas Koch (Department of Communication, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany)
Nora Denner (Department of Communication, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Article publication date: 20 January 2022

Issue publication date: 30 June 2022

1857

Abstract

Purpose

Previous research assumes that informal communication may be highly relevant for organizations, but little is known about its actual relevance for employees or its functions and effects. The article aims to examine functions, types and effects of informal communication in organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

Research on internal communication usually focuses on formal strategic communication with or among employees. Informal communication between employees in organizations has received far less attention, although a great deal of communication in organizations is informal. Therefore, the present study analyses informal communication in organizations. The authors conducted a quantitative online survey of employees working for different organizations in Germany.

Findings

The authors show that five types of employee can be differentiated regarding their informal communication behavior: the chatterer, the focuser, the strategist, the small-talker and the networker. Moreover, the study demonstrates that informal communication significantly increases employees' perceptions of being informed, as well as their affective commitment, both of which increase job satisfaction. Finally, results show that informal communication does not decrease employees' productivity, but instead helps them to carry out their jobs more effectively.

Originality/value

Although previous studies indicate that a large part of the communication among employees within an organization is informal, research has rarely dealt with this phenomenon, instead focusing especially on formal communication. This is one of the first papers that focuses on informal communication among employees using quantitative survey data.

Keywords

Citation

Koch, T. and Denner, N. (2022), "Informal communication in organizations: work time wasted at the water-cooler or crucial exchange among co-workers?", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 494-508. https://doi.org/10.1108/CCIJ-08-2021-0087

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles