Hearing difficulties can have a big impact on work life. That is why it is important for people to have hearing checked at regular intervals throughout their lives. While some hearing loss is preventable through the use of hearing protection in noisy occupations or by reducing the volume of music, some hearing loss is hereditary, genetic, or caused by a disorder or condition beyond an individual’s control. Here are some ways that hearing loss could be affecting work life.
When a co-worker says, “I told you that,” or “I just said that,” it can feel frustrating, embarrassing, or both. These situations can be incredibly frustrating for both parties involved. Co-workers might assume that are not being given the proper attention, while those hard of hearing may assume that their co-workers really didn’t tell them something. People may find themselves blaming others for poor communication when it is actually their hearing loss that is causing the communication breakdown.
If an order, question, or answer is not heard correctly, it can be hard to do a job efficiently and without mistakes. The more detailed the task at hand, the more likely that a worker will make a costly or even dangerous error. Those with desk jobs who rely heavily on communications, such as secretaries, administrative assistants, and customer services representatives, can have their work life affected much more than those in occupations where communications are done mostly via email or other written form.
Withdrawing from others
People who are suffering from hearing loss are more likely to avoid social interactions at work or initiate communication. This means that work performance can suffer because they are afraid to ask questions or interact with others on the workforce team. Hearing loss sufferers may miss phone calls or other important communications. This can make it seem like they are ignoring people.
Lack of promotion
Hearing loss can be holding people back from reaching their career potential, and employers may view any mistakes as a lack of attention. This means people with hearing loss could be passed up for valuable promotions, meaning that raise is going to someone else who doesn’t necessarily know the job any better.
Understanding hearing loss: creating a compassionate dialogue
Perhaps a colleague displays some symptoms of hearing loss. Although approaching anyone about a health issue such as hearing loss can be tricky, it may be best to point out the problem to a manager. Managers should set aside time to talk to any employees who may have possible hearing issues. Explain to them that this talk is done out of concern and highlight all their strong points. Make sure that they feel they are in a supportive environment, one that is not out to shame them. Point them in the direction of solutions that might help. For example, Miracle-Ear on wikipedia has a lot of information about treatment options for those suffering from hearing loss. Hearing aids have come a long way over the years and are so small that most people never know that someone is wearing them.
Working life can be more difficult for those hard of hearing, but with the proper identification and the right treatment, it is possible to minimize any problems that occur and enjoy a successful career.