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      Tackling the loneliness of hearing loss - putting the business case

      Loneliness costs businesses £2.5bn a year. Our Director of Policy and Campaigns, Roger Wicks, makes the link between hearing loss and loneliness, and suggests changes to support employees.

      By: Roger Wicks | 12 January 2018

       

      Can you imagine being at work, sat in an office full of colleagues you know and respect – but feeling lonely and isolated?

      For a large proportion of the UK’s five million working-age people with hearing loss this is their daily reality. In our latest survey, 65% of people with hearing loss said they felt isolated at work and 47% felt lonely.

      Not surprising, then that 79% went on to say that their hearing loss made work more stressful.

      But what about the huge cost to the employer? The new report from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, Combating loneliness one conversation at a time, presents some shocking statistics, including the finding that loneliness costs businesses £2.5bn a year through the harm it does to workers or the people they care for. The Commission found that the costs mount up from lost days, low productivity and high staff turnover. 

      “Loneliness costs businesses £2.5bn a year”

      The Jo Cox Commission is clear that tackling loneliness needs action across society – it’s not the sole responsibility of leaders and employers – but business leaders do need to create and nurture ‘connection-friendly’ environments.

      So, what do these findings mean for employers who do want to make sure that staff with hearing loss are genuinely integrated into their workplace?

      First, they must encourage employees to disclose their hearing loss, indeed all disabilities – and create the environment and culture that allows this to happen.

      Around half of the people we surveyed said they’d hidden their hearing loss from people at work. Obviously, no employer can provide the right support if they’re completely in the dark. Communication needs to start at the recruitment stage – with candidates asked whether they need any support or adjustments.

       “Half the people we surveyed said they’d hidden their hearing loss from people at work”

      Employers must also make the small, simple adjustments necessary to accommodate the needs of people with hearing loss. Many of these cost nothing. For example, letting someone move their desk to face colleagues, or making sure meeting rooms are well-lit so employees can lipread.

      Some adjustments do cost money, such as providing a hearing loop or a listening device such as a Roger Pen – but when these are classified as more than a ‘reasonable adjustment’, the cost can be met, in full or in part, by the government’s Access to Work scheme.

      Another essential for a connection-friendly work environment is staff who are deaf aware. It makes business sense for companies to offer staff deaf awareness training. If employees can’t communicate with colleagues with hearing loss then they can’t communicate with the 11 million UK consumers with hearing loss. Deaf awareness training incorporates simple, commonsense tips, such as speaking one at a time in meetings – and taking care not to obstruct your mouth if a colleague or customer is lipreading you.

      The Jo Cox Commission depicts clearly the interdependence between workplaces and loneliness – something that is exacerbated by hearing loss. Employers need to create the connection-friendly environments to unlock the true potential of their workforce. 

      Find out more  about supporting employees with deafness and hearing loss and remember to follow the Hearing Loss at Work LinkedIn page for news, tips and resources.

      Recent Posts

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      Researchers in Nottingham are developing a new way to tell how well young children and babies can hear with their implant, by looking at their brain activity. We’re funding PhD student, Faizah Mushtaq, to develop a tool that could help children with cochlear implants. Faizah tells us more about her exciting research and how you can help.

      By: Faizah Mushtaq
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      By: Kevin Taylor
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      Recent Posts

      Can brain activity tell us how well a child can hear with their cochlear implants?

      Researchers in Nottingham are developing a new way to tell how well young children and babies can hear with their implant, by looking at their brain activity. We’re funding PhD student, Faizah Mushtaq, to develop a tool that could help children with cochlear implants. Faizah tells us more about her exciting research and how you can help.

      By: Faizah Mushtaq
      18 September 2018

      Detecting sound is easy - the hard bit is getting a machine to know what it means

      Whether it’s the sound of a doorbell, or complex speech patterns, sound recognition technology will transform everyone’s lives - including people with hearing loss and deafness. Kevin Taylor, our Product Technologist, tells us more.

      By: Kevin Taylor
      17 September 2018

      Treatments for hearing loss: What’s new?

      Over 20 treatments to restore or protect hearing are currently in clinical trials. If they are successful and pass all three stages of these trials, the way we manage hearing loss could change significantly. Our Translational Research Manager, Dr Carina Santos, tells us the good news.

      By: Carina Santos
      14 September 2018

      How to stay safe and independent at home

      If you, or a loved one, can’t hear the doorbell, phone, baby monitor or smoke alarm, one simple solution will offer total peace of mind. The Bellman Visit paging system will alert you to important sounds around the home so you can stay safe and independent.

      By: Sally Bromham
      06 September 2018

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