Wearing Hearing Aids Linked to Job Success
“It is likely that hearing aid users will be happier, healthier and wealthier, with a better overall quality of life, than hearing impaired people who do not use (hearing) aids.” That is the striking conclusion of a new wide-ranging report on hearing loss by renowned researcher Bridget Shield. An important area where hearing aids fulfill a crucial role in increasing quality of life is employment. “Hearing aid users earn significantly more than non-users, the differential between the two groups increasing with the severity of hearing loss,” according to the report. In addition, people with hearing loss who do not wear hearing aids are around twice as likely to be unemployed as those who do wear hearing aids.
Difficulties faced by hard of hearing (HoH) employees range from following group conversations to loud background noise and tinnitus. Modern hearing aid technology can alleviate many of these problems thanks to specialized microphones that help the wearer focus on what’s important and subdue unwanted background noise when required. They also carry in-built tinnitus therapies to help the wearer focus on his or her task at hand.
How hearing loss contributes to sick leave and unemployment
Fatigue is a major problem faced by HoH people during and after work because they have to expend more energy trying to hear what their colleagues are saying. This exhaustion can not only have a detrimental impact on family life, it also contributes to a greater incidence of sick leave among employees with hearing loss compared with those with normal hearing, Shield’s report shows. The worse the hearing, the greater the need for recovery. Struggling to hear at work can also lead to negative feelings including a lack of confidence in ability and productivity in addition to the practical challenge of communicating with colleagues.
Around 64% of HoH people of working age are in full or part-time employment, compared with around 77% of the general population, according to the report. The employment rate of people with hearing loss is thus approximately 83% of that of the hearing population. This difference also seems to be getting worse since Shield’s last such report in 2006. Her new report warns: “Hearing loss represents a very large cost to society in terms of reduced quality of life and lost productivity. It is therefore important, for the sake of both the hearing impaired individual, and society as a whole, that hearing loss is identified early and appropriate treatment and support provided.”
This assessment corresponds with a recent study into quality of life with hearing loss called “Better Hearing is Better Living”. This study supports the idea that modern hearing aid technology improves people’s quality of life to a greater extent than shown in previous studies. While it is not possible to determine the degree of the direct relationship, it appears that Signia’s Own Voice Processing (OVP) technology for a natural-sounding own voice leads to talking more in important communication situations, and, in turn, helps lead to this improvement. Recent advances in noise reduction and microphone precision are thought to be the reason for improved experiences in group activities, which are known to be noisy.
A revolution in sound, style, streaming and charging-on-the-go
Across Europe and Japan, approximately 9 out of 10 hearing aid wearers find them useful at work, Shield’s report reveals. Yet despite the clear benefits of hearing aids, there are still large numbers of people with hearing loss who do not wear any hearing aids. One factor could be stigma in relation to hearing loss, which may have declined in recent years but still exists. Even though managers and other colleagues appear to provide more support and encouragement when a person’s hearing loss is known, that person can feel embarrassed or self-consciousness due to their communication difficulties.
Signia has addressed this problem with its new hearing aids, Styletto Connect. They feature cutting-edge audiological solutions such as NarrowFocus technology that ensures the wearer hears what’s important without distracting or uncomfortable background noises. Signia’s unique OVP solution further encourages communication at work and at play by making sure that the wearer’s own voice also sounds natural and familiar. But what sets Styletto Connect apart above all else is their sleek elegant design that makes them look like a cool piece of wearable tech. They offer Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls, music and TV sound. And they are rechargeable with a pocket-sized portable charging case for up to four days’ use free from plugs and cables.
If you think you or someone you know might have hearing loss, try our free online hearing test.
Impact of hearing aids on earnings and income
● 30% of employed (full or part-time) hearing aid users earn over €40,000 Euros compared with 21% of non-users.
● 37% of non-users believe that they earn less than their peers, compared with 23% of hearing aid users.
● The unemployment rate of people with hearing loss aged between 45 and 64 in the USA (8.1%) is approximately twice that of those with hearing aids (4.4%).
● The use of hearing aids can mitigate the amount of income loss by up to $20,000 US Dollars, depending on the degree of hearing loss.
Source: Shield, B. (2018). Evaluation of the social and economic costs of hearing impairment. A report for Hear-It AISBL.