More than half the people suffering from age-related hearing loss fail to tell their employers for fear of losing their job or status, or because they don’t believe their employer will be able to help.
Research by hearing aid company Easyhear found that 68% of people with hearing loss said it was difficult taking part in meetings and understanding conversations.
Many said they had experienced being mistaken for not paying attention because of their hearing problems. They also complained of mishearing figures or instructions, appearing rude, looking unintelligent and making mistakes.
There are estimated to be some 2.3 million hearing-impaired people of working age in the UK, said Easyhear.
While 10% of the population would benefit from a hearing aid, four in five did nothing about it, deterred by the perceived stigma, costs and long NHS waiting times.
Of those who did inform their employer, just four in 100 received any help from an HR or other manager, the survey said.
Easyhear said the numbers in work affected by age-related hearing loss would grow as the retirement age was raised.
Elspeth Watt, director of HR and training company Calibre, said: “Hearing loss is a sensitive area and an issue that individuals are reluctant to open up about. Responsible employers should consider including a hearing test in their OH checks, so that problems can be spotted and appropriate adjustments made.”