Hearing loss costing billions in lost productivity

One in 10 in the workplace has problems hearing properly. The cost to the Danish society in lost productivity in the age group of 50-64 years alone, is nearly €360 million, annually. This is because many work less because of their hearing problems or leave the labour market entirely.

These findings were presented in a scientific report about the consequences to society of hearing impairment and early retirement published 23 October 2006.

Leaving the labour market

670.000 Danes over the age of 18 years, in a total population of 5.4 million suffer from hearing impairment. The new scientific report prepared by the Danish Institute for Social Research states that the annual cost to society is about €360 million in lost productivity in the 50-64 year age group, alone. This corresponds to the loss of 11.234 full-time positions in Denmark, due to employees working less or leaving the labour market entirely, because of hearing impairment. Extrapolating from the Danish data, the Europe wide loss of productivity would translate into €24 billion among 50-64 year olds.

About one employee in 10 in each workplace is hard of hearing and perhaps unable to hear a ’Good Morning’ greeting or oral instructions given to them. This has serious consequences for each hearing impaired individual as well as for the national economy.

No earlier published national or international studies have systematically calculated to what extent hearing problems cause unemployment and early retirement from the labour market.

Be open

The former three-time Danish bicycling world champion Hans-Henrik Ørsted is one of the 670.000 adults in Denmark with hearing problems.

”It wasn’t until I was in my early 40’s that I had the courage to talk about the hearing problems I had suffered from for many years,” he said.

“I have since learned that you can still perform well in the workplace even with a significant hearing loss. At work I have learned to be open and make colleagues, employers and customers aware of my hearing problems. Openness combined with assistive listening devices, such as hearing aids and wire loops will allow many, who would otherwise be tempted to throw in the towel, to work many more years.”

Hans-Henrik Ørsted today holds a managerial position in Danish business.

About the survey

The scientific report was prepared by the Danish Institute for Social Research, Socialforskningsinstituttet, and includes a quantitative and qualitative investigation focusing on Danes aged between 50 and 64 years. 2,407 respondents provided responses on written questionnaires, and 39 participated in qualitative interviews.

Sign up! Get news updates from hear-it.org