I go into a lot of different workplaces training employees on using equipment to help them hear. Often this equipment has been recommended by Access to Work, and I come in once the equipment has been delivered to ensure the employee understands how best to use it in their job role.
This starts with basic training on how to use the equipment itself. But after that it gets really interesting as we walk round the workplace developing bespoke hearing strategies for specific rooms and situations. I love that part – it makes me really think on my feet as I train employees who work everywhere from call centres to classrooms and boardrooms to building sites. And most people I meet get really excited when they realise the amazing ways assistive equipment can help them to hear at work and boost their confidence.
But sometimes I meet employees who are what we call ‘reluctant users’. Often they have found it harder and harder to use the phone to the point where they have had to give up using it completely. By the time they have been assessed and received assistive equipment to help they have enjoyed a considerable period of time without the stress of phone calls.
Why might your employee be a reluctant user?
Their confidence has taken a battering from the many times they’ve been unable to hear on the phone, and they are worried they’ll have the same experience again.
They don’t think the equipment can help them. This may be because:
their audiologist is unfamiliar with the equipment and has told them it won’t work with their hearing aids.
they have heard on the grapevine that someone else struggled with the equipment.
they’ve had no training on how to use the equipment properly.
They simply don’t want to do something they find extremely stressful, especially if they are required to spend a lot of time on the phone.
How can you help them become less reluctant?
Make sure the employee has had a recent hearing test (within 2 years) and that the audiologist has the information they need to set up the hearing aids to work with the equipment they’ve been given.
Organise training for them on the correct use of the equipment in their specific workplace, and with their phone technology.
Use trainers who are experienced in that particular assistive technology. Employees tell me that my experience as a hearing aid wearer and a Phonak Roger Pen user makes a big difference to them. Not only can I empathise with their hearing loss, but I can also test the equipment alongside them to see how best to adjust it for their hearing loss and working environment.
Unless the employee has a history of being reluctant to perform their job role, we need to be sure that all appropriate adjustments have been made to their hearing aids and the equipment they are using before suspecting that they are a reluctant user. That does take time and effort, but the outcome is usually an employee that feels confident they can return to the phones with proper support and a lead-in period to get used to the equipment.