Working Through the White Noise: Helping Employees with Hearing Loss Thrive
Education & Research Hearing loss is the nation’s third largest public health issue after heart disease and arthritis.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. For employers, this presents particular challenges. More than 65 percent of people with hearing loss are under the age of 65 and a full 60 percent of them are in the workforce. We expect this percentage to expand as people stay in the workforce longer, and the growing number of younger people and veterans with hearing loss enter the workforce.
A measurable impact
Hearing loss has an economic impact, affecting job performance and earning potential. A study by the Better Hearing Institute found that untreated hearing loss resulted in a loss of income per household of up to $12,000 per year, depending on the type and severity of hearing loss.
"Working successfully with hearing loss is possible by doing your homework, getting good information and developing a plan between the employer and the employee."
Ineffective workplace communication and lack of access to assistive technology costs employees and employers billions of dollars every year in lost productivity, turnover, and accidents.
The good news is that there is increasing help and support for employees and employers. There are several technologies and strategies to minimize difficulty and maximize success in the workplace, and many cost little or nothing to implement.
More than a good deed
The benefits of assisting workers with hearing loss and of creating a hearing-friendly workplace far outweigh the costs, according to annual studies from 2005 to 2014 by the Job Accommodation Network Employers reported that providing assistance resulted in such benefits as retaining valuable employees, improving productivity and morale, reducing workers’ compensation and training costs, and improving company diversity. The employers in the study reported that a high percentage (57 percent) of accommodations cost absolutely nothing to make, while the rest typically cost only $500.
Working successfully with hearing loss is possible by doing your homework, getting good information and developing a plan between the employer and the employee.