How Hearing Loss May Affect Your Job

In Hearing Loss by Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

Hearing loss is a common health condition that millions of people are navigating on a daily basis. Various factors can contribute to the development of hearing loss including existing medical conditions, environmental exposure to noise, and genetic history. Hearing loss strains communication which can significantly impact both your personal and professional life.

Impact on Job

Untreated hearing impairment can make managing tasks and responsibilities difficult. The reduced ability to hear restricts the speech and sound a person can absorb and process. This makes communication, an essential aspect of work, difficult. This can impact your job and job performance in the following ways:

  • Job Performance: effective communication is critical in the workplace. Communicating with coworkers, supervisors, and customers in addition to being able to hear and follow instructions, requests, and respond efficiently are all foundational aspects of work. When experiencing hearing loss, communication is much more difficult to engage in. People may not hear complete sentences and words, need others to repeat themselves, and speak loudly. This could lead to miscommunication or communication gaps that impact productivity, meeting deadlines, and the ability to focus. Job performance is often evaluated by this kind of proficiency.
  • Salary: untreated hearing loss can also negatively impact one’s income. As mentioned, struggling to engage in effective communication can impact job performance. This can lead to underemployment and/or unemployment. A study conducted by Better Hearing Institute and published in the Hearing Review, found that hearing loss can contribute to decreased wages and income. In surveying and analyzing the data of nearly 40,000 households, “hearing loss was shown to negatively impact household income by up to $12,000 per year, depending on the degree of an individual’s hearing loss”.

Addressing and treating your hearing loss is critical, not only to enhance your job performance but to improve your health and overall well-being! There are two useful ways to do this: speak to your supervisor and discuss workplace accommodations and have your hearing assessed and treated.

Request Accommodations

Meeting with human resources and/or your supervisor to discuss your hearing impairment and how your work is impacted is important. There are various accommodations you can request from your employer to help you work as best you can. This includes:

  • Changes to work area: placing physical barriers between you and any sources of loud noise, moving to a quieter area etc.
  • Using digital communication platforms: rather than relying on telephone calls, using messaging services can be a better way of communicating.
  • Telephones: if you have a phone on your desk, you can request that it be compatible with your hearing aids, you can also request captioning services.
  • Trainings: you can request captioning services for required trainings

These are just a few examples of workplace accommodations that you could benefit from. Make sure to meet with your employer to find out what is available to you. You can also ask about any insurance benefits that cover hearing health.

Benefits of Treatment

Treating your hearing loss is the most important thing you can do! The first step is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist or hearing healthcare specialist to have your hearing examined. Hearing tests determine if there is any impairment, the degree, and specific type. This information determines the most effective treatment options for you. The most common treatment is hearing aids which are small electronic devices that help pick-up, amplify, and process sound; allowing people to hear significantly better. This can drastically benefit your work life by:

  • Strengthening Communication: hearing aids allow you to interact with others with greater ease. Your ability to hear increases without needing others to shout, repeat information, move to quieter areas etc. This allows people to respond more effectively and engage in conversations without the stress and pressure of trying to hear.
  • Improving Well Being: hearing aids can truly be life changing. The anxiety, fatigue, stress, frustration etc. that is often experienced with untreated hearing loss and serve as barriers to communication are alleviated. Better hearing health allows people to fully participate in conversations, activities, work etc. Greater positive interactions, independence, and ease can boost a person’s confidence and well-being on a daily basis. In addition to enhancing job performance, this supports general health and well-being.

Hearing loss can cause your work to suffer but it does not have to! By treating your hearing loss, you can strengthen your job performance and improve your overall quality of life!