April is Stress Awareness Month, when health care professionals and health promotion experts across the country join forces to increase public awareness about the signs, symptoms and causes of stress.
During the coronavirus pandemic, remote working can pose its own challenges for many people with hearing loss. The increased use of conference calls and online communication platforms can be stressful and exhausting for those struggling to follow the conversation. A staggering 12.8 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2018/19, affecting around 602,000 workers*.
Stress Awareness Month is a great opportunity to think about the wellbeing of your workforce. Here are five ways to support your employees with hearing loss:
Here are five ways to support your employees with hearing loss:
1. Appoint a home working hearing loss champion
With hearing loss affecting around 12 in 100 employees, it’s crucial to create a culture where people with hidden disabilities feel supported in their remote workspace. That’s why we’re calling on employers to appoint a hearing loss champion – someone who understands the day-to-day impact of hearing loss. They will break down barriers for employees with deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss who are working from home, by providing other staff with deaf awareness tips.
This will not only reduce work-related stress but help overcome feelings of loneliness and low confidence that’s often linked to hearing loss, especially relevant at this time. A range of tools are available to help the hearing loss champion promote better deaf awareness. Call our Information Line for details.
2. Record remote communication and information needs
It can take a little while to adjust to working from home, especially with face-to-face meetings and training being replaced with video and telephone conferencing, and online training.
Have you considered how your employees with a hearing loss are managing these changes? If you’ve made reasonable adjustments for them in the workplace, are these measures as effective at home?
Encourage employees to tell you, and their colleagues, what works best for them. Don’t forget it’s good practice to record their needs. Consider their access to support and equipment at home, such as:
- voice recognition speech-to-text software
- BSL interpreter via video relay
- flashing screen alerts on mobile phones to notify the user of any incoming calls
- an amplified phone
- personal listening devices.
3. Improve the remote working environment
Encourage your employees with hearing loss to create a designated working space away from distracting background noise that can make it more difficult to hear phone calls and video conferences. It’s important they think about their posture as well as their hearing needs. We know not everyone has an ergonomic desk chair at home, but there are some easy ways to make sure they don’t have a bad back or sore neck at the end of the day.
Some simple solutions could be using some books in place of a laptop riser or a cushion instead of a back support. Taking regular breaks is important and getting out in the fresh air will boost their mood and productivity.
4. Make your remote meetings deaf aware
Foster good deaf awareness and be aware that usual methods that employees with hearing loss rely on, such as lip reading, may not be possible when working remotely.
Bear in mind simple communication tips such as talking clearly, saying your name before speaking and checking if anyone needs communication support. It’s easy to make your virtual meetings and conference calls more accessible with these helpful suggestions:
- Use an agenda to give a clear reference point for everyone to follow
- Make sure only one person is talking at a time
- Nominate a note taker and send the notes out via email at the end of the meeting
- Ensure the chair repeats any questions from callers
- Indicate when you are changing the subject
- When asked for clarification, do not repeat yourself instead try to re-phrase the point.
5. Help your hearing staff get deaf aware
There’s no need for anyone to feel stressed or excluded because they are deaf or have hearing loss. During this period of isolation, it’s important that hearing staff understand the needs of colleagues who have hearing loss. Our communication tips and deaf friendly phone call tips will give other staff the skills and confidence to communicate with deaf colleagues who are working remotely.
And, when life returns to normal after the coronavirus pandemic, our in-house deaf awareness training will break down barriers and encourage better accessibility in the workplace. Find out more.
* Source: Health and safety at work. Summary statistics for Great Britain 2019 – Health and Safety Executive.
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