Addressing hearing loss on the job should be a workplace wellness priority, says the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), pointing out that in today’s service and knowledge-based economy, good communication is critical to business success for both the employer and the employee. Fortunately, hearing aids, as well as other appropriate treatments and workplace accommodations, can help individuals function optimally on the job. The earlier hearing loss gets treated the better the outcome. BHI is underscoring the point that hearing loss in the workplace is not the concern, but rather leaving hearing loss unaddressed is. When hearing loss is addressed, it does not have to get in the way.
The U.S. economy now depends largely on employment that demands good communication skills. Service and knowledge-based work has become increasingly dominant. America also is experiencing a demographic shift toward a maturing labor force. People are staying in the workforce longer; baby boomers are on the threshold of their golden years; and the rate at which young people are entering the job market is slowing as a result of population change. What’s more, just as we’re seeing this convergence of economic circumstances, we are also witnessing an increase in adult hearing loss at younger ages.
Already, nearly 40 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. The majority of them are in the workforce. And according to EPIC’s “Listen Hear!” survey, more than 10 percent of full-time employees have a diagnosed hearing problem. Another 30 percent suspect they have a problem but have not sought treatment.
By limiting one’s ability to communicate effectively, untreated hearing loss can affect productivity, job performance, and earnings. A national BHI study found that people with untreated hearing loss experience a loss of as much as $30,000 in income annually, depending on their degree of hearing loss. Not surprisingly, EPIC’s “Listen Hear!” survey found that almost all employees who suspect they have a hearing problem, but have not sought treatment, say they believe their untreated hearing loss impacts them on the job in at least one way. From asking people to repeat what they have said (61%), to misunderstanding what is being said (42%), to even pretending to hear when they can’t (40%), the burden that comes with leaving hearing loss unaddressed weighs heavily on America’s workers.
Fortunately, when addressed, hearing loss is largely manageable. The vast majority of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids. Eight out of ten hearing aid users say they’re satisfied with the changes that have occurred in their lives specifically due to their hearing aids. A national BHI study even found that the use of hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss dramatically by 90-100 percent for those with mild hearing loss, and from 65-77 percent for those whose hearing loss was more severe.
Today, most U.S. employers have some type of wellness program. By including hearing tests and hearing health information in workplace wellness programs, as well as including hearing aids as an employee benefit or discount program, employees are encouraged to treat hearing loss rather than hide it. Not only does this help the worker, but it creates a work environment where employer and employee can team up to ensure that a worker’s hearing loss does not interfere with job performance, productivity, safety, quality of life, morale, opportunities , or success in the workplace.
To obtain a free hearing test, contact Susan Rardin at Hear Here LLC, 317-731-5386 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Hear Here also participates in the EarQ Family Hearing Plan program which offers significant discounts on hearing devices, with participating businesses and companies. If you would like more information on the EarQ Family Hearing Plan, please contact Susan via email.
~ Susan Rardin, M.A., F-AAA