Hearing Loss and the Workplace

Dealing With Hearing Loss In The Workplace

Success in the workplace is a challenge that most people face on a daily basis. For those with hearing loss, that challenge can become even more difficult. However, as with most things in life, if you have a willingness to take charge and can face the problem head on – it is possible to achieve positive results and be successful in virtually any career or business venture.

"If you have a willingness to take charge and can face the problem head on – it is possible to achieve positive results and be successful​"

The reality that you may have hearing loss can be difficult to accept and it can often become a struggle to regain a sense of normalcy in your daily activities, much less your place of work. The feeling that your livelihood and ability to provide income for your family may be adversely affected can become overwhelming. Therefore, first and foremost, it is important to remember that you are not alone. Of the nearly 40 million people in the United States with hearing loss, the majority are still in the workforce and most of them are doing quite well with the help of hearing aids.

Good communication skills are paramount in a world that is becoming increasingly dominated by customer service and knowledge-based work. Untreated hearing loss can put significant limitations on effective communication, therefore when a person loses the ability to hear properly, it can become unnecessarily detrimental to them performing the simplest tasks required for their job. Limited communication can make it difficult to receive and interpret auditory information from computers, machines, and individuals or it can pose a risk to one’s ability to hear sounds that signal hazards in the work environment. A negative impact on productivity, job performance, and most importantly earnings – is not uncommon. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute estimated that untreated hearing loss could cost a person as much as $30,000 in lost wages annually. When this is multiplied by the large number of individuals with untreated hearing loss, the results are quite staggering.

The Key To Overcoming Hearing Loss In Order To Reach & Maintain Workplace Success

Simply stated, taking a proactive approach and addressing your hearing loss allows you to get back into the game. Generally, this means purchasing hearing aids. Most people report dramatic improvements in workplace communication because they used hearing aids. In other words, being able to hear better during meetings, on the telephone or in small gatherings has made their job easier. The quicker you are willing to take charge, the sooner you will realize that treating your hearing loss can pay off big time and help you avoid potential pitfalls along the way.               

If you suffer from hearing loss, here are a few tips to help you take charge and put yourself in a position to succeed at your workplace:

  1. Know that you are in control 
    Be confident!  Hearing loss shouldn’t diminish your earning potential or make you less of a person.  Take charge of your future earnings by maximizing the hearing you have left with suitable hearing aids. Hearing better will help you perform better and maintain more control of your life.
  2. Be sure that you know how to do your job correctly
    Being competent and honing your skills not only makes you a valuable employee, it also shows that you have what it takes to overcome obstacles.  People with disabilities that function as well or better than those without disabilities earn the respect of coworkers and employers. Also, people with hearing loss generally feel better about themselves and their lives as a result of wearing hearing aids.
  3. Think before asking “What?” 
    Many people with hearing loss develop a habit of asking people to repeat, even if they understand.  Give yourself a moment to comprehend what’s just been said before automatically asking for the speaker to repeat. Wearing hearing aids will improve your listening skills and help create positive workplace interactions.
  4. Prepare your coworkers 
    Don’t attempt to hide your hearing loss (or your hearing aids).  Inform your coworkers about the limitations of your hearing.  Tell them it’s easier for you if they look at you when speaking and talk slower. Answer any questions about your hearing loss truthfully and remember no one is perfect. Most people report improvements in work relationships when they use hearing aids
  5. Avoid conversations in high noise environments 
    Along with informing surrounding coworkers about your hearing loss make sure they realize that as ambient noise levels go up your ability to understand goes down.  Let them know you’re willing to move to a quieter location to hear and understand what they have to say. 

Everyone has choices in life to make and living with the consequences of those choices can sometimes be difficult. However, for those with untreated hearing loss, making the choice to get a hearing test and/or hearing aids to help you hear better, will most often lead to a positive impact in your life, your relationships and your workplace as well.