by Dr. Jennifer A. Bebee, CCC-A, F-AAA
John sits at the company meeting attentively listening to Cheryl update all the employees on the upcoming deadline for the big project they’ve all been sweating over for the last few weeks. John has been trying to get the promotion he feels he’s been denied for the last 3 years, so he’s particularly invested in this project. He still has some finishing touches, but Cheryl just announced that the deadline is tomorrow at 11 am, so he should have enough time to get it all finished by then and finally get his promotion.
But John doesn’t get the promotion because his deadline was actually 7:00 am – not 11:00 am, which is what John heard. In addition to that, his employer and his colleagues are upset with him, again, for failing to pull his weight with the team. Meanwhile, John feels he’s being treated unfairly, and is also embarrassed, for something so simple as to mishear the deadline time.
According to the American Academy of Audiology, individuals with hearing loss experience greater difficulties in employment and career development, compared with those with typical hearing. In fact, the Hearing Health Foundation determined that untreated hearing loss can decrease one’s annual income by as much as $30,000, making on average 30% less than their normal hearing peers for doing the same job.
With examples such as John’s, it’s no wonder that employers or colleagues incorrectly assume the employees with hearing loss are less deserving of equal financial compensation as they seem less engaged or have poorer performance than their normal hearing peers; and not due to discrimination against those with hearing loss, but because most people with mild hearing loss are unaware of their condition, assuming the mistakes made are normal miscommunications instead of mishearing the conversation.
Hearing loss affects unemployment as well. The Hearing Health Foundation states that those with a uncorrected severe hearing loss have an unemployment rate nearly double that those who have hearing loss corrected with hearing devices. This is good news because those with hearing loss can “change the game” by seeking devices designed to specifically improve their hearing in the professional world. These devices include features and artificial intelligence software designed to improve hearing ability in common work-related settings, such as: meetings, conference calls, cell and land-line phone calls, and one-on-one conversation with background noise.
In our thriving economy with employment rates at their lowest, employee performance should be constantly improving in the workplace in order to be competitive. The aware business professional should make a move to get their hearing tested to see if they can improve their efficiency in the workplace.