According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, approximately 20% of American adults have some form of hearing loss.
It’s safe to assume that the majority of those individuals will spend a large part of their lives in the workforce where hearing difficulties can pose some real issues for them and their employers. That is why it is important for workplaces to make hearing health a priority.
Employers who support employees experiencing hearing loss and who take measures to prevent hearing loss on the job see many benefits to productivity and safety in the workplace.
Hearing Health and Workplace Safety
Some work environments are unavoidably noisy; however, long-term exposure to noise causes permanent hearing loss, which goes on to affect every aspect of an employee’s life and their overall health.
A study at Johns Hopkins found that individuals with hearing loss are at greater risk of accidental falls and hospitalization. Dangerous noise levels are also associated with headaches, elevated blood pressure, fatigue, digestive disorders, compromised immune systems, and mental health issues.
In other words, occupational noise is a health hazard, and it hurts both employees and employers. Employees suffering from noise-induced ailments will not be as productive. They will also cost their employers higher insurance premiums, and employers might be found liable for workplace accidents where hearing loss is a factor. It is in employers’ best financial interests to consider hearing health in workplace policies so they do not incur the expenses of poor employee health and accidents.
Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. Workplaces should do their best to limit unnecessary noise and protect employees in noisy environments with appropriate gear and breaks. They can also offer regular hearing tests, hearing loss education, and hearing healthcare in workplace wellness programs. These efforts and more can protect employees’ hearing health and lower healthcare and liability costs to employers.
Hearing Health and Workplace Productivity
Communication is key to any job and employees who are struggling to hear miss out on important information that is vital to doing their jobs well. Habitual poor performance can mean lost money and resources for a company over time, all of which can be prevented when companies provide support for workers experiencing hearing loss.
For example, say an employee has gradually lost some of her hearing. She may not hear the boss tell her about budget changes to a project and then accidentally go over budget. She could misunderstand a phone conversation with a client and fail to provide the information they requested, frustrating and alienating the client.
She may be struggling to keep up in conversations with coworkers and respond with misleading information. Mistakes like these negatively impact everyone’s ability to work and affect the company’s image. Time and money are lost, and the once confident employee may begin to hang back and stop taking initiative for fear she will make more mistakes.
Employers benefit when they implement hearing health initiatives that aid employee productivity. As well as making hearing healthcare available in insurance plans, employers should seek to follow laws about making accommodations for employees with disabilities. Such accommodations for workers with hearing loss might include providing a hearing device at work, moving their work station to a quieter area of the office, or allowing time off to seek medical care for hearing loss.
Accommodating hearing loss at work helps employees be confident and productive in their work. They make fewer costly mistakes and have all of the information they need to do their jobs well. Companies who prioritize employee health and success retain high performing employees. All of this translates into better work, happier customers, and a better bottom line.
Hearing Health Can Benefit Your Company
At the end of the day, companies are all about making a profit. Some employers might feel that investing money into hearing health initiatives will waste funds, but the opposite is true. Making hearing health a priority at work saves businesses money.
By preventing hearing loss and other noise-induced health issues, your company will save on employee healthcare plan costs and prevent costly accidents. You will also see more productivity and profits from employees when you make appropriate accommodations for hearing disabilities. Prioritizing hearing health benefits your company by helping it make and save more money so you can continue succeeding in your business goals.
Want to know more about how to support good hearing health in the workplace? Contact VHS to get all of your questions answered today!