Hearing Loss & the Workplace

In Ear Health, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Workplace by Bary E. Williams Au.D.

Hearing loss impacts all aspects of our lives, from the relationships between our friends and family members to everyday interactions with strangers. Hearing loss can also have a major impact on our work lives. When we experience hearing loss, whether it is gradual or sudden, we have to adjust all manner of our work habits. It is important to address how hearing loss impacts our work lives because untreated hearing loss, in particular, can have very negative effects on our financial wellbeing. Any financial blows wrought from hearing loss can undoubtedly negatively affect our emotional wellbeing as well, impacting our family, friends, and loved ones in the process.


Untreated Hearing Loss in the Workplace

Untreated hearing loss can make communication within the workplace quite difficult. Those with hearing loss may be reluctant to complete activities such as answering the phone or even communicating in group meetings for fear of being unable to adequately communicate. When hearing loss is not disclosed, coworkers may not know of the hearing loss at hand, which can lead to damaging miscommunication. Work might become a place of stress, anxiety, and even dread.


Untreated Hearing Loss & Lower Earning Power

There can be direct effects of hearing loss on finances. People have studied the links between those with untreated hearing loss and lower wages. A 2012 study published in the journal Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology found that people with hearing loss earn significantly lower wages than people who have full hearing capabilities. A related finding is that people with hearing loss are more likely to be unemployed than people who do not have hearing loss. A study published by the Better Hearing Institute suggests further that people with untreated hearing loss earn an average of $20,000 fewer dollars a year than people who are not hard of hearing. The 2011 study found that hearing loss may cost society around $26 billion in federal taxes. This means that approximately $176 billion in actual wages lost due to underemployment are directly related to hearing loss.


Workplace Communication

Though it may be a sensitive topic, one major way to improve communication at work is to let your coworkers know that you are hard of hearing. You may want to explain your hearing needs at the same time. For example, that you hear out of one ear better than the other and you would like people to address you from that side. You can also let people know how to best communicate with you when you are face-to-face. It may be that you do not need people to speak louder to you. You may, instead, need them to speak more slowly and clearly. It may be useful to announce your preferred communication methods, such as requesting that people contact you via text or instant message or email instead of calling you on the phone, as it might be difficult for you to understand disembodied voices.

The goal of discussing your hearing needs with those you work with is to prevent future misunderstandings. It is also to give you all of the tools that you need to be the best at your job. The clearer you are about your capabilities and your needs, the better equipped you will be to work for yourself and with your coworkers.


Treating Hearing Loss Can Improve Your Work Life

There are many ways to mitigate how hearing loss, and untreated hearing loss, in particular, can have a negative impact on people’s jobs and wages. That same study by the Better Hearing Institute suggests that treating hearing loss can drastically improve one’s wages. They focus on hearing aids, in particular, as useful for improving work life. When people wear hearing aids at work, however, their communication conditions can greatly improve. Sergei Kochkin of the Better Hearing Institute suggests, “…when people with even mild hearing loss use hearing aids, they improve their job performance, increase earning potential, enhance their communication skills, improve professional relationships, stave off depression and improve the quality of their life.”


Visit Us at Exceptional Hearing Care

If you are experiencing hearing loss and are worried about it affecting your job and career, there are a few steps you can take to improve things. The first step is to consult with us at Exceptional Hearing Care and get a hearing test to determine the extent of your hearing loss. Our team of hearing professionals will help you determine and select a hearing assistance device that best suits your needs.

Bary E. Williams Au.D.
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