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For most people, hearing loss starts in the years when they are still working. Eleven per cent of people between the ages of 50 and 59 have hearing loss. The figure more than doubles between the ages of 60 and 69 (to approximately 25 per cent).
Impaired hearing undoubtedly affects productivity and performance. According to the Hearing Health Foundation, Untreated hearing loss can reduce one’s annual earnings by as much as $30,000.
If you are dealing with hearing loss and still working, here are some ways you can continue to put the best foot forward at work.
Prepare your work environment and tools to succeed.
One of the most significant challenges, when you suffer from hearing loss, is losing crucial details. In a meeting or phone call, you might miss something, in discussion with a customer, or even in a video or news story when training. Staying prepared and getting ready for tough circumstances is the best way to cope with this problem.
- Preparing written notes or a plan for phone calls.
- Finding a quiet space to work productively in, make phone calls, or attend small meetings;
- Clarify critical points during and after meetings or calls, either orally or in writing.
- Asking for complicated information in email or message form.
Be honest about your hearing loss.
The ability to communicate directly about your hearing needs can help you build the best working environment. To optimize your workplace hearing, it often takes simple changes and details.
For these situations, it is better to report your hearing disability and let your job know what improves your hearing the best. That can give you an advantage in performing your duties as an employee in a professional environment.
For instance, if you’re employed in a company where you are part of weekly staff meetings, being honest about your hearing loss will help immensely. You’re more likely to have a position at the meeting table where you can see all members clearly and away from winds and other disruptive noises.
And it’s not just your boss that you should be open to. Network with colleagues who know your situation. Be a ‘multipurpose discloser’ and let them know exactly what you need to help them communicate better with you. They can advocate for you to others on the team, as well as be more sensitive to your needs if you are working directly with them. But remember to be persistent in telling colleagues of your needs so they always know how they can be of assistance. Never be afraid to point out any information you didn’t quite pick up on.
Remember your workplace rights
Employers are expected to offer accommodations that allow you to perform work in the same way as your hearing peers in the same positions, and to qualify for equal job opportunities. Your company management should ensure that you are in a place to:
- Receive day-to-day organizational communications
- Be an active participant in meetings, social engagements and corporate events.
- Make progress in your chosen profession.
But keep in mind that the employers are entitled to deny an application for accommodation if they can show it will be an unfair expense or difficulty burden.
Use a hearing aid
If you have hearing loss and don’t yet have a hearing aid, you’re at a considerable disadvantage. Hearing aids have significantly improved over the past few decades. Many automatically adapt to changes in the audio environment and can be connected to smartphones and Bluetooth.
Wearing a hearing aid can also significantly boost your chances to excel in the workplace. Employers will appreciate the fact that you are continually developing your communication skills, and your hearing aids will also help alleviate misunderstandings and tension while keeping you safe on the job.
Are they completely perfect? No. But armed with the technology of noise reduction and directional microphones, they allow you to operate and communicate in most situations. They will help you keep yourself and your co-workers safe.
At Whisper Hearing Centers, we work with people from all industries to enhance their hearing capacity on the job. Contact us to make an appointment to see how we can help you hear more.