Hearing loss at work
In a 2016 survey by totaljobs.com*, it was revealed that 1 in 5 workers haven’t told their employers that they experience deafness or hearing loss at work — figures fuelled by an absence of awareness and understanding across UK businesses.
Surprisingly, it’s not just companies that are unaware of the issues. Many people don’t always recognise themselves that they are struggling because of a hearing loss. It can be such a gradual, progressive change, which may take up to ten years to address.
Hearing loss can impact on an individual’s ability to communicate effectively, which in turn can affect understanding, employee satisfaction, motivation, trust and ultimately productivity.
I’m constantly anxious that my ‘luck’ will run out. Either in being able to work at all, or that my workplace will run out of patience and I’ll be out of job.
Rebecca Allen, data analyst, London**
According to the Office for National Statistics, in June 2017 almost 32 million people were employed in the UK (with 5.4M in the public sector and 26.5M in the private sector), and according to Universities UK there were around 2.3M students preparing for employment.
Hearing loss among these people is a significant, largely unrecorded and unmanaged barrier to personal potential and also to business productivity.
It’s very common for people with hidden disabilities not to trust their employer to respond favourably if they disclose their condition. This ‘fear factor also works the other way: An employer may want to help, but doesn’t know what to say or do… Raising awareness that hidden disabilities even exist is vital.
Emma Satyamurti, Leigh Day Partner, London**
On average, 1 in 6 people have a hearing loss that impacts their everyday communications, being somewhat lower in the age groups 20-50, but rising significantly thereafter.
Yet today’s technology can mitigate this impact to the point where people with well-managed hearing loss perform to their full potential – and education, business and society as a whole benefit as a result.
*Totaljobs source from www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/1-4-deaf-people-quit-job-due-to-discrimination
** Quotes source from www.theguardian.com/careers/2017/feb/21/
- Deaf jobseeker and employee experiences survey 2016. Report by Totaljobs. https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/deaf-jobseeker-employee-report-2016/
- Deaf workers in a hearing world. Deaf journalist Charlie Swinbourne gives his comments on the 2016 Totaljobs survey https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/deaf-employee-experiences/
- Action Plan on Hearing Loss. NHS England and the Department of Health identify multiple health and social issues associated with hearing loss. https://www.england.nhs.uk/2015/03/hearing-loss/
- A guide for commissioners, education and service providers to support young people with hearing loss through transition Dept. Education & NHS England: Hearing Loss & The Transition To Adulthood
- A guide for employers to support people with hearing loss in the workplace Dept. for Work & Pensions: What Works Hearing Loss and Employment