Whether you have a sudden change in your hearing or you have noticed increasingly weakened hearing over time, you can stay on track with your career. Although many associate hearing loss with the elderly, according to the Better Hearing Institute, of the more than 31 million Americans who admit to struggling with hearing loss, only 37% are at retirement age. That's why it's important to understand hearing loss in the workplace.
No matter what you do for a living, hearing loss does not need to be an impediment at the workplace. You just may need accommodations in certain situations. Do not be afraid to advocate for yourself.
Research shows that it does. As is widely documented, untreated hearing loss can impact mental health, create social isolation and diminish one's emotional well-being. All of these can detrimental for a person in the workplace. Moreover, if left untreated, hearing loss has also been shown to result in lower income when compared to wages for peers with normal hearing. This Department of Education-funded article discussed a study of workplace compensation for three groups of workers: those with untreated hearing loss, those who had hearing loss but used hearing aids as treatment, and people with normal hearing who served as the control group. The results demonstrated that the more severe the hearing loss, the larger the pay disparity.
Although mild hearing loss showed little impact to compensation compared to the control group, for those with more pronounced hearing loss, there was a clear difference. For them, the study had several findings:
Fortunately, people in the same age group (45-64 years old) with hearing loss who wore hearing aids reported that they do not feel as if their employers treat them differently from employees with normal hearing (in terms of compensation).
We are here for you at Mass Audiology. If you need information on technology or tips on being successful in the workplace, we are happy to help. Call us at (855) 569-7486 or make an appointment to learn more.
You may need to initiate a discussion regarding your hearing loss with colleagues, who may be unaware of your hearing issue, or are aware but concerned that they will say the wrong thing. Tell them if you prefer email, messaging via text or IM, or face-to-face conversations. Explain that you are wearing a hearing device, and while you might not need them to speak louder, often speaking more slowly (or whatever you prefer) helps. Don’t be afraid to be open with colleagues, and encourage them to discuss concerns – as it prevents misunderstandings.