Hearing loss can have many unexpected effects on our lives. Of course, hearing loss affects our abilities to simply hear the world around us, be that conversations with friends and loved ones, or ambient sounds such as passing cars, bird song, or wind rustling through the tree tops that attune us to our surroundings.
When we lose the ability to hear subtle and overt noises, however, our communication as a whole can shift drastically. This can make us feel disoriented in any given space. It can also make us less willing to participate in the world around us. Hearing loss can make us feel isolated within social situations where we don’t feel like we can hear conversations around us.
When we do try to participate, we can often be overcome with nervousness and anxiety about whether or not we are speaking loudly enough, or whether we are speaking too softly. In turn, we can feel worried and sometimes embarrassed when the people we are speaking with themselves speak overly loudly to us, trying to adjust for our hearing loss.
Hearing Loss in the Workplace
The changes in our hearing abilities and communication styles can negatively affect our experiences in the workplace, as well. There are links between people with untreated hearing loss and lower wages. A 2012 study published in the journal called Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology found that people with hearing loss earn significantly lower wages than people with full hearing capabilities, and that hearing loss sufferers are more likely to be unemployed. A study published by the Better Hearing Institute suggests that people with untreated hearing loss earn an average of $20,000 fewer dollars a year than people who are not hard of hearing.
While these studies do not necessarily explore why, exactly, people with hearing loss earn lower wages or are at higher risks of unemployment, there are steps you can take to address your hearing loss with those you work with.
Addressing Your Hearing Loss
The first step is to visit us at Hearing Group and have your hearing tested. The sound advice of a professional will help you develop a plan for better hearing health, which might include acquiring hearing assistance devices.
The second step is to be clear and direct about your communication needs at your workplace. It might be useful to simply disclose to your employers and colleagues that you are experiencing hearing loss, as they may not know that you have a hearing issue. The more you communicate about your hearing needs, the better you will be at completing your work tasks. You may choose to simply explain that you hear out of one ear better than the other without going into details. You may also choose to explain that you have hearing loss and let people know your preferred communication methods. For example, you may request that people contact you via text message, instant message, or email rather than calling you on the phone.
It may also be useful to explain that you are using a hearing assistance device, if that is the case for you. You can then let people know how to best communicate with you—they might not need to speak louder, but perhaps speaking more slowly and clearly will be helpful in communicating with you. The goal of discussing your hearing needs with those you work with is to prevent future misunderstandings, so the clearer you are about your needs, the better!
A study by the Better Hearing Institute suggests that treating hearing loss with hearing aid devices can drastically improve one’s wages. The 2011 study found that hearing loss may cost society around $26 billion in federal taxes—meaning that there is approximately $176 billion in actual wages lost due to underemployment are directly related to hearing loss. When people bring hearing aids into the workplace, however, conditions improve. Sergei Kochkin of the Better Hearing Institute suggests that “…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.”
Visit Us at Hearing Group
When you treat your hearing loss, whether through getting hearing aid devices and/or changing your communication patterns, you not only improve your quality of life but you might also directly impact your earning power. Contact us at Hearing Group today to schedule a consultation.