Employers should be all ears when it comes to the impact of untreated hearing loss on the job. More than one third of U.S. employees suspect a hearing problem, but have not sought treatment. Almost all admit that their untreated hearing loss impacts them at work.

A common disruption

Some of the most common complaints are having to ask people to repeat what they said, misunderstanding what is said and pretending to hear when they cannot. These issues can interfere with productivity, make employees feel isolated or depressed and impact earnings. The Better Hearing Institute reports that individuals lose approximately $1,000 in annual household income for every 10 percent increase in hearing loss.

"Educating employees on hearing health and showing support for treatment will improve employee health and productivity, and help more people hear life to the fullest."

Despite the need for regular hearing exams to identify hearing loss early, when it can be treated more easily, less than one in four employees has had their hearing checked in the past two years.
Overcoming stereotypes

Many employees may view hearing loss negatively and resist wearing hearing aids as a sign of aging.  Others are concerned with employer perception, and some simply cannot afford treatment.

The Center for Hearing and Communication lists the average cost of a hearing aid between $900 and $3,500. That’s for only one ear. This high cost could be why only one in five people who would benefit from a hearing aid wear one.

Many employees also falsely believe that hearing aids are covered under most medical plans.  Employers can offer hearing insurance as a specialty benefit, similar to vision and dental insurance. These plans can offer access to national networks of hearing professionals, plus substantial savings on hearing aids from major manufacturers for low monthly premiums. Offering hearing insurance can also show support for employees seeking hearing loss treatment to overcome any stigma concerns.

With the aging workforce and health issues, such as diabetes and obesity, that increase risk for hearing loss on the rise, employers will notice hearing health becoming a topic of increasing concern over the next several years. Educating employees on hearing health and showing support for treatment will improve employee health and productivity, and help more people hear life to the fullest.