According to a survey by the English marketing company OnePoll, 60 % of workers of the age of 55 or over have noticed that their hearing is deteriorating and that it affects their ability to perform at work. The survey, of 800 workers, looked at the effects of hearing loss in the workplace[i].
A reduction in confidence due to hearing problems was reported by 40 %, and feeling less productive and marginalized were other significant sources of anxiety. The first signs of hearing deterioration were having to ask colleagues to repeat themselves, reported by more than half the respondents, and having to concentrate much harder to follow conversations and increasing the volume on laptops and phones.
The survey found that communication at work becomes more difficult in many with hearing deterioration. Almost half of respondents say they would avoid using the telephone at work, and a third say they try to avoid meetings. A quarter said that they avoid socializing with colleagues, to keep their hearing loss hidden.
General background noise and colleagues not talking clearly were the two most challenging listening scenarios, reported by more than half of the respondents.
Almost half of the respondents reported having to ask colleagues to speak more loudly or to repeat themselves. Around 30 % said they carefully choose locations for meetings, and around 20 % use lip reading.
Many reported that they do not tell their colleagues or employer about their hearing loss. More than half the respondents were concerned that their employer would not be supportive, and thus they keep their hearing loss to themselves.
The main reasons why workers were not addressing their hearing loss, by for example, taking a hearing test and investing in hearing aids, were that they wanted to feel younger and more proficient. Four in ten respondents said they would not wear a hearing aid because it would make them look and feel old, and two in ten had concerns that colleagues would perceive them negatively.
[i] Hearing loss fear in the workplace for British ageing workers. Smallbusiness.co.uk. 28 June 2017 http://smallbusiness.co.uk/hearing-loss-fear-workplace-2539330/ (Accessed 13 December 2017)