Internal communication

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When internal communication is verbal and non-verbal communication between members of a particular group or organization understood with the meaning and purpose of optimizing organizational processes (efficiency), dissemination of information (transparency), exchange (dialogue) as well as motivation and retention. Internal communication is thus one of two sub-areas of organizational and corporate communication . For the internal communication of companies and other organizations, such as B. Non-governmental organizations , political parties or authorities , the term "employee communication " is also used synonymously .

Internal communication is a management function that supports organizational goals such as information, motivation and identification as communication and behavior management.

Basically, two different types of internal communication can be distinguished: formal communication and informal communication.

Formal internal communication

Basically, a single communication process in a company does not differ from communication in the private sector, i. H. the general principles of communication also have an effect here. However, there are overall differences due to certain framework conditions that exist in companies. The planned communication in companies cannot be freely designed, but is determined by the organizational specifications and rules, these specify both form and content, as well as the process of communication. This is why this organized part of internal communication is called formal.

The characteristic of this formal communication is that it is usually organized on a permanent basis and independent of people in order to guarantee a smooth internal flow of communication.

There are 4 areas within internal communication, some of which overlap:

  • CEO communication: perceived by the highest operational management body - ensures the flow of information and communication towards managers, individual groups of employees or the entire workforce
  • Management communication: perceived by the organizationally established management structures - happens in a cascade: from top to bottom with increasing broad impact.
  • HR communication: perceived by the HR department - contains all HR-relevant data and news, e.g. B. Employees joining and leaving the company or changes to general terms and conditions of employment or current holiday regulations
  • Internal corporate communication: by the communication department - using defined, institutionalized internal media, ensures the cross-divisional flow of information and communication within the company (see internal communication tools).

In Germany, for example, the obligation to formally organize communication processes results from the Works Constitution Act . According to Sections 81–83, employers are obliged to inform employees about their work tasks, dangers, personnel records, etc. In addition to this mandatory communication, all companies will try to use internal communication to optimize their organizational processes in order to achieve the goals mentioned above.

As a rule, formal oral internal communication is written down in a certain way (minutes, e-mail, meeting notes) and can be regulated with the help of a workflow management system.

Informal internal communication

In addition to the characteristics of formal communication, internal communication is also characterized by an informal part, which includes the entire non-prescribed and organizationally regulated part. In the past, this part - often referred to as " Flurfunk " or "Latrinenweg" - was understood as unreliable, unpredictable and therefore a disruption of formal communication, and attempts were made to prevent this informal communication as far as possible. Active and transparent informal internal communication is the best measure to minimize or control informal internal communication.

Internal communication tools

Typical internal means of communication are:

In addition, all communication media can in principle also be used for internal (corporate) communication.

The less frequently used, more complex, but more surprising and effective means of communication include:

Knowledge managers are usually heavily involved in internal communication processes, especially when it comes to the electronic implementation of communication-relevant requirements in corporate communication .

In internal communication, too, push and pull instruments are usually combined.

  • Push instruments are media that actively convey information to a specific group of recipients, e.g. B. Emails .
  • Pull media make information available on a specific platform - but this must be actively accessed (for example information on the intranet or on the bulletin board).

Using pull media, employees can be encouraged and motivated to access the information on a push medium (e.g. internal newsletter with reference to the new corporate video on the intranet).

See also

  • Downward communication to analyze the characteristics of the communication flow starting from the top of the hierarchy.


  • Ulrike Buchholz: Internal corporate communication . In: Romy Fröhlich , Peter Szyszka , Günter Bentele (eds.): Handbuch der Public Relations. Scientific basics and professional action . 3. Edition. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2015, ISBN 978-3-531-17438-9 , pp. 831-850 , doi : 10.1007 / 978-3-531-18917-8 .
  • Lars Dörfel (Ed.): Instruments and techniques of internal communication: trends, benefits and reality. Berlin 2008 ISBN 978-3-940543-04-2
  • Lars Dörfel, Philipp Mann (Eds.) (2016): Trendmonitor Internal Communication 2016 , Berlin / Mainz.
  • Rosemarie Nowak, Michael Roither (Ed.) (2016): Internal organizational communication. Theoretical foundations and practical fields of application . Wiesbaden: Springer VS. ISBN 978-3-658-14097-7 . (With focus on Austria)