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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

      Tech ideas to help raise awareness of hearing loss

      For the last couple of years, Microsoft UK has hosted an Ideas Generator event for charities. It’s a chance to explore how charities can harness the latest technology to provide real-world solutions. This year, the Microsoft team chose Action on Hearing Loss to attend along with four other charities.

      By: Kevin Taylor
      14 November 2019

      How Akouos Therapeutics is working to develop genetic therapies for hearing loss

      Ακούω is a Greek word that means to listen. Akouos Therapeutics (pronounced ah KOO ohs) is a biotechnology company based in Boston, USA. It was formed in 2016 with the goal of applying precision genetic medicine to conditions that cause hearing loss. A key step in the development of such treatments underlies the choice of the company’s name.

      By: Jim McLaughlin, Akouos Therapeutics
      14 November 2019

      Hearing Health by Apple

      Hearing loss caused by excessively loud music and audio from personal listening devices is an increasing problem. In the latest version of their Health app, Apple are introducing new features to tackle the issue. They will be available as part of their iOS13.1 software update.

      By: Jesal Vishnuram
      11 October 2019

      Children (aged 7-12 years) invited to take part in a new research study

      Researchers at University College London (UCL) are investigating the effect of noisy listening environments on children’s ability to understand speech and would like to invite your child to take part.

      By: Katharina Zenke and Shiran Koifman
      16 September 2019

      Recent Posts

      Tech ideas to help raise awareness of hearing loss

      For the last couple of years, Microsoft UK has hosted an Ideas Generator event for charities. It’s a chance to explore how charities can harness the latest technology to provide real-world solutions. This year, the Microsoft team chose Action on Hearing Loss to attend along with four other charities.

      By: Kevin Taylor
      14 November 2019

      How Akouos Therapeutics is working to develop genetic therapies for hearing loss

      Ακούω is a Greek word that means to listen. Akouos Therapeutics (pronounced ah KOO ohs) is a biotechnology company based in Boston, USA. It was formed in 2016 with the goal of applying precision genetic medicine to conditions that cause hearing loss. A key step in the development of such treatments underlies the choice of the company’s name.

      By: Jim McLaughlin, Akouos Therapeutics
      14 November 2019

      Hearing Health by Apple

      Hearing loss caused by excessively loud music and audio from personal listening devices is an increasing problem. In the latest version of their Health app, Apple are introducing new features to tackle the issue. They will be available as part of their iOS13.1 software update.

      By: Jesal Vishnuram
      11 October 2019

      Children (aged 7-12 years) invited to take part in a new research study

      Researchers at University College London (UCL) are investigating the effect of noisy listening environments on children’s ability to understand speech and would like to invite your child to take part.

      By: Katharina Zenke and Shiran Koifman
      16 September 2019

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      We're really proud of everyone who's a part of Action on Hearing Loss, and hope you'll feel inspired to become a part of our community.​

      We campaign for changes that make life better for people who are confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss.

      Our ears are our organs of hearing and balance. They have three parts: the outer, middle and inner ear.