Let's face it: Those of us in the workforce are operating in an intensely competitive job market. Because of this, we do our best to avoid showing any signs of vulnerability or weakness. Though hearing loss is a sign of neither, employees can be afraid to talk about hearing loss at work, but they shouldn't be.
Hearing loss is more common than you may think. A total of about 48 million Americans have hearing loss. More specifically, about 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss. The rate increases to 8.5 percent for adults aged 55 to 64. Of the adults aged 20 to 69 who could benefit from wearing hearing aids, fewer than one in three have used them.
Though hearing loss must be diagnosed by a trained professional, certain signs and symptoms of hearing loss should be taken seriously. These can include:
Left untreated, these symptoms of hearing loss can have negative repercussions at work: Not hearing the message of a meeting, not understanding and being able to process directives and having to slow down conversations can hurt your job performance.
Hearing loss has many causes, but one thing is certain: It is not a sign of weakness, nor is it something to be considered a flaw. It is a medical condition, and one that often requires treatment. Keep this in mind when you prepare to tell your employer about your hearing loss.
When you meet to discuss the impact of hearing loss on your work, talk about some of the symptoms you have experienced. If needed, provide concrete examples of when your hearing loss came up in the workplace, such as misunderstanding information presented at a meeting. Be open and honest.
Finally, inform your boss that you are seeking treatment for your condition. Seeking treatment is the type of proactive behavior employers appreciate. Most will respect your resolve to continue giving your best performance at work by overcoming obstacles such as hearing loss.
After you have told your boss about any hearing loss issues at your work, discussing the issue with your co-workers is the next step. Again, it is helpful to be open and honest; however, it is not necessary to share your specific diagnosis. Rather, you can share some etiquette regarding hearing aid wearers. For example, there's no need for your co-workers to shout at you to compensate for your hearing loss. Emphasize to co-workers that, though they might need to speak a little more slowly and clearly to accommodate you, there is no need to single you out. Remind your co-workers to speak directly to you rather than allowing their eyes and faces to shift in other directions.
If you're concerned that wearing a hearing aid will erode your confidence in the workplace, know that today's hearing aids are discreet, close-fitting pieces. If it has been determined that you need a hearing aid to treat your hearing loss, it’s important that you wear it, especially at work. Showing your co-workers and employers that you are treating your condition inspires confidence in your performance.
Having a job can mean that you have a tight schedule, with little room for appointments separate from work. Fortunately, Miracle-Ear has more than 1,400 locations nationwide for your convenience.