Hearing-Friendly Workplaces Pay Dividends



Unaddressed hearing loss affects not only an individual’s ability to understand and to be understood, but it can affect the individual’s on-the-job productivity. For instance, workers who are not able to communicate effectively in the workplace may experience more conflict with supervisors and co-workers, have difficulty following directions, be more accident-prone, underachieve, struggle with group assignments, and become isolated from their teammates.

The benefits of assisting workers with disabilities and of creating a disability-friendly workplace far outweigh the costs. For example, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), funded by the United States Department of Labor (USDOL), interviewed 807 employers between June 28, 2008, and July 31, 2014. Employers in the JAN study represented a range of industry sectors and sizes. The study results consistently showed that the benefits employers receive from offering workplace assistance far outweigh the low cost. Employers reported that providing assistance resulted in such benefits as retaining valuable employees, improving productivity and morale, reducing workers’ compensation and training costs, and improving company diversity. These benefits were obtained with little investment. The employers in the study reported that a high percentage (57%) of assistance costs absolutely nothing to make, while the rest typically costs only $500. What is the bottom line? Workplace assistance low cost and high impact.

SOURCE / CITATION: Job Accommodation Network (Original 2005, Updated 2007, Updated 2009, Updated 2010, Updated 2011, Updated 2012, Updated 2013, Updated 2014). Workplace accommodations: Low cost, high impact. Retrieved 5 December 2014, http://AskJAN.org/media/lowcosthighimpact.html

Making a workplace hearing-friendly to all employees can deliver the following benefits:

  • Creates a work environment where creativity flourishes, enabling employees to create a competitive advantage
  • Streamlines processes that improve operational efficiency
  • Reduces the high cost of employee turnover, absenteeism, and under-performance
  • Increases workplace safety
  • Reduces management time spent on handling employee conflict
  • Maximizes employee productivity at work
  • Improves interactions with customers and supply chain partners
  • Minimizes destructive disruptions to the work flow

You might wonder what kinds of assistance might cost little or nothing? No-cost assistance might be as simple as following effective communication practices and good meeting etiquette: Distributing meeting agendas in advance, having only one person speaking at a time after being recognized, offering note-taking projected on a computer + LCD or whiteboard visible to the group as a whole, and providing summaries of key discussion points and action items distributed promptly after a meeting concludes.

Improving communication access in the workplace might involve the use of other low-cost / high-impact services and devices such as personal FM systems, hand-held microphones, real-time speech-to-text captions, sign language interpreters, signaling and alerting devices. Even conference calls and web-based meetings can now be made accessible through remote captioning. None of these communication access assists typically presents an undue burden to a business nor fundamentally alters the nature of its business.

For more information, contact us today by emailing  Valerie@acscaptions.com  and let us help you make your workplace more hearing-friendly.

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