How Hearing Loss May Affect Your Job

How Hearing Loss May Affect Your Job

Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Work & Economy

Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A
Latest posts by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)

The sense of hearing is woven into most parts of our lives, often in unexpected ways. Though it might be obvious that hearing loss could impede our ability to work in education, communications, or law, it might come as a surprise that it can have a powerful effect on work in industry, maintenance, and other occupations focused on manual tasks. How can hearing loss affect such a wide range of jobs? Let’s begin with the effects on jobs that require person-to-person communication as a part of daily work, particularly as many of these have shifted online. Then, let’s consider the implications for safety and productivity in jobs that emphasize manual tasks. You might be surprised to consider just how many ways spoken language is woven into our working lives. 

Communication-based Occupations

Jobs that revolve around the task of communication clearly can be affected by hearing loss, and hearing aids are often the best way to remedy that negative effect. When we are expected to carry on conversations with coworkers, students, clients, or patients as part of our working lives, much is at stake if we cannot fully understand what others are saying. Beyond risks to the bottom line, human lives are held in the balance in education, social service, and healthcare professions, making clear and accurate communication essential. 

The shift to virtual work has made hearing loss an even greater challenge. Anyone whose work has transformed to videoconferencing in 2020 will understand how poor the audio quality can be from time to time. When you compound that struggle to hear what others are saying with hearing loss, the combination can make it nearly impossible to carry out some tasks via videoconferencing with hearing loss. Although accommodations through real-time captioning, proper lighting, and gestured conversation entry can help, hearing aids are the best solution to make video conferencing work possible for those with hearing loss. 

Operations-based Occupations

Those jobs that are focused on manual operations might seem as if they would continue unimpeded by hearing loss. For instance, working in a factory setting, in an auto mechanic shop, or in shipping and receiving all seem to be occupations that are focused on a manual task at hand. However, you might be surprised how often verbal communication is expected in these lines of work, as well. 

Whether calling out instructions, coordinating the workflow, or explaining changes of plans, many coworkers will assume that they are understood when they use verbal communication, even in a noisy setting. If these messages are missed, there can be significant results in terms of productivity, efficiency, and the bottom line. 

However, safety concerns are an even greater risk in these operations-based occupations. Warning messages and signals are often issued audibly, whether in the form of a person calling out a warning from across a room or work site or an alarm sounding an emergency. The inability to hear these warnings can put you at risk of physical harm, as well as the others down the chain of command who you are expected to alert to workplace dangers. 

If you or someone you love might have hearing loss, keep in mind these potential effects on working life. We already know that hearing loss has a wide range of effects on social, emotional, physical, and even cognitive life, but these findings about the effects on occupational life can have wide-ranging effects, particularly if they lead to poor workplace performance. 

Rather than facing the risk that hearing loss might affect your ability to perform your work to the best of your ability, why not take the opportunity to seek treatment. The first step will be to schedule a hearing exam. After a thorough diagnosis of your hearing ability, we will consult with you about your individual lifestyle and needs, including the workplace contexts that might require assistance. 

With this information in mind, we can recommend a line of hearing aids to suit your situation, and the range of new features is sure to suit a wide range of lifestyles and activities. Don’t delay taking responsibility for your hearing health, particularly when these varied aspects of life, including your workplace performance, are held in the balance.