Working with Hearing Loss

Jesse Western

Communication is key to a healthy work environment. You must be able to effectively communicate with your coworkers and bosses in order to work as a team and to complete your tasks, to be sure, but also to ensure that your own needs as a worker are being met. Going about your work day with untreated hearing loss, however, can make communication within the workplace quite difficult—adding strain to your own emotional well-being, potentially damaging your relationships with the people that you work with, and even negatively impacting your wages.


Untreated Hearing Loss in the Workplace

Untreated hearing loss can have serious effects on your working. If you are experiencing hearing loss, you may be reluctant to go about the basic activities that fill your day such as answering the phone, chatting with your coworkers around the water cooler, or speaking up in in group meetings. Further, your coworkers may not even know about your hearing loss, which can create awkward (if not at times damaging) miscommunication. When you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss, or when you have hearing loss that you have not disclosed to your coworkers, the day-to-day routines of your workplace can ultimately become quite stressful, anxiety producing, and outright dreadful.


How Untreated Hearing Loss Affects Income

More than this, hearing loss can have a direct effect on your finances. A 2012 study published in the journal Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology found that people with hearing loss earn significantly lower wages than those with full hearing capabilities. Moreover, the study notes that people with hearing loss are more likely to be unemployed. A different study, published by the Better Hearing Institute in 2011, suggests that people with untreated hearing loss earn an average of $20,000 fewer dollars a year than people who are not experiencing hearing loss. These lost wages contribute to an overall loss of around $26 billion in federal taxes. In total, approximately $176 billion in actual wages due to underemployment may be directly related to hearing loss.

There are many ways to lessen the blow of how hearing loss can negatively impact people’s jobs and wages. If you are experiencing hearing loss and are worried about it affecting your job and career, there are a few steps you can take to improve things. The first step is to consult with a hearing health professional and get a hearing test to determine the extent of your hearing loss, and to develop a care plan that will ensure that you are addressing your hearing needs in the most effective manner.


Improving Communication in the Workplace

One of the most important steps for improving your communication at work is to let your coworkers know that you are experiencing hearing loss, and that you have some specific hearing needs. It is very helpful to let people know, for example, that you hear out of one ear better than the other and that anyone trying to communicate with you should to address you from that side of your body. It may also be useful to let people know how to best communicate with you when you are face-to-face. You may not need (or want) people to speak louder to you, but to instead to speak more slowly and clearly. In this day and age there are many ways to communicate digitally, and you may ask coworkers to contact you via text or instant message or email instead of calling you on the phone.

Hearing aids are a very effective way of improving life at work (and at home). Hearing aids of course help people to hear, but they play a huge role in helping people to simply communicate. Sergei Kochkin of the Better Hearing Institute suggests, “…when people with even mild hearing loss use hearing aids, they improve their job performance, increase earning potential, enhance their communication skills, improve professional relationships, stave off depression and improve the quality of their life.” At Hearing Improvement Center, we can help you along the painless process of selecting and adjusting to the hearing aid that is perfect for you.

An important goal of discussing your hearing needs at your workplace is to prevent future misunderstandings, but also to give you all of the tools you may need to be the best employee possible, and to get the most satisfaction out of your work. If you are as clear as possible about your hearing capabilities and your needs, you will be better equipped to work for yourself and with your coworkers.


Hearing Improvement Center

If you’ve been struggling to hear, whether in the workplace or in other areas of your life, it is important to take a hearing test. At Hearing Improvement Center, we provide comprehensive hearing health services and look forward to helping you hear your best!