Why World Hearing Day should matter to employers

One in five people may suffer from hearing loss but employees often fail to mention their impairment.

One in five people may suffer from hearing loss and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that many more are at risk of permanent hearing damage, with more than a billion students putting their hearing in danger because of unsafe listening practices.

To raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world the WHO holds World Hearing Day on 3 March each year. The relevance of this day for the workplace is that employers should be cognisant of the employees that might be dealing with hearing impairment.

The workday will often seem long and hard for hearing-impaired employees who struggle in meetings and conversations with colleagues where the level of concentration that is needed demands so much energy it drains impacts negatively on their mood and efficiency. Often, the discouraging result is dismissal from the job.

Some find it embarrassing to tell their co-workers or employers about it. In fact, because they are still able to function, albeit inefficiently, hearing-impaired employees often fail to mention their disability. But over time, an untreated and undisclosed hearing loss creates more problems for all parties involved than would immediate action and openness, even if, at first, it seems daunting to put the facts forward. 

However, by encouraging employees to talk about their hearing disability, employers can create an environment where employees support each other by facing the hearing-impaired colleague when they speak to them, for example. Employers can also get training to help the workplace become inclusive to people with hearing loss.  

It is also an established fact that it pays for the employer to accommodate a hearing-impaired employee as this invariable with a stronger effort and loyalty from the employee.