Did you know that 1 in 6 people in the UK have hearing loss? And with the rise of both music-related deafness and retirement ages, the number of people with hearing loss in the workforce is only set to increase.
As someone with deafness who has worked as an employee, and run several businesses, I am often asked whether it’s possible for people with hearing loss to integrate well into a workplace. My response? It’s not only possible, they bring a whole heap of advantages. Here are a few:
1. We really value our jobs
In a recent survey of employees with hearing loss by TotalJobs 1 in 5 respondents hadn’t told their employer about their hearing loss for fear of discrimination. And they are right to be cautious, as there are many examples of candidates being rejected once their hearing loss becomes public. So once we get a job we do our best as we know getting another one might not be that easy.
2. We’re very productive
People with hearing loss love to chat just as much as anyone else. But it’s hard to hear office banter unless our colleagues make an effort to involve us. So we often tend to get our head down and get on with work while others around us are chatting about BGT or Love Island.
3. We have amazing powers of concentration
One real benefit of hearing loss is the ability to switch off or take out our hearing aids and work in relative silence. So it doesn’t matter if Sally from Accounts is shouting down the phone or workmen are digging up the road outside the office, we can still focus and get our work done.
4. We’ve proved we’re adaptable
Like me, many people with hearing loss acquired it at as an adult. That means they’ve had to make significant adaptations in their lives to get where they are now. Not only that, but the technology available to help us hear is constantly being upgraded requiring us to adapt to that too.
5. We’re resilient
People with hearing loss have plenty of opportunity to strengthen their resilience when faced with jokes at their expense, isolation and even discrimination. But that means we’re already used to handling stress and strong emotions.
6. We help bring order to chaos
Yes, those of us with hearing loss do tend to need some help with communication at work. But that’s to the advantage of many workplaces. Having a team member with hearing loss leads to clearer team communication, and meetings that are chaired and minuted well.
7. Many adaptations we need cost you nothing
A lot of the help we need to thrive at work costs nothing but an extra minute or some consideration. But if we do need additional equipment or support it pays for organisations to encourage employees to ask for help as soon as they start. That’s because, under the Access to Work scheme, the government will pay up to 100% of the cost of support or adaptations for an employee if they have been working less than six weeks when they first apply.
It’s clear that supporting people with hearing loss in the workplace can make a positive difference to the bottom line. So there’s no need to let hearing loss become a barrier to the right person getting the job.