Special Feature by guest columnist: Bonnie Bennett
Discussing any type of health problem with an employer can be seriously awkward. No one wants to show that they have a problem that could affect their performance at the workplace. Hearing loss is a health problem that can be remedied with hearing aids, but employees often need to share the issue with their employers.
Hearing loss is a problem that many adults have and the number of adults with hearing loss is expected to grow. With the number of people using earbuds at loud volumes, hearing loss will be a health issue that employees and employers will have to face. To be able to enjoy easier listening and comprehension well into adulthood, earbud users should turn down the volume.
When you get to the point that you need to talk to your employer about hearing loss, you should go about it smartly. Even though hearing loss is not rare, employers are not always willing to listen and accommodate problems like that. There are laws about firing people for health problems, but you must make sure that your ability to fulfill your duties at work is not compromised.
Take a look at these tips before you speak to your employer about your hearing loss:
- Find the perfect time and place
Because it can be uncomfortable to talk about physical weakness, it is important that you talk to your employer when you are ready. You might have to make an appointment to meet privately with your boss, but only schedule the appointment when the time works for you. Prepare for the meeting so you know exactly what you want to say to your boss. You do not want to give away too much information, but share just want your boss needs to know.
- Explain what you are doing to remedy the issue
It is important that you explain what you are doing about your hearing loss. If you are using hearing aids, or you have ordered them, explain how they help you in different situations at work. Some people do not know how to talk to people who wear hearing aids and your employer might appreciate knowing what you can and cannot hear when you are wearing them.
If you are not wearing hearing aids, be sure you can comfortably explain why. Tell your employer what you are doing so you can do your work despite not wearing hearing aids.
- Be confident in your ability
No matter what you decide to do, when you talk to your employer shows that your hearing loss will not affect your ability to do your job. The last thing you want is your employer questioning your ability. Since hearing loss is considered a disability, your employer does have to make adjustments if you need them. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees from being fired for disabilities. Since hearing is one of the most common problems that employees face, the laws and accommodations are clear. Regardless of the law, you still want to be a valuable employee who adds to the business.