- Romain Bendavid, director of corporate expertise and work experience at IFOP
- Jean-Luc Puel, president of the JNA association (National Hearing Day)
- Jean-Charles Ceccato, vice-president of JNA
Lower tolerance to noise pollution since confinement
Workplace noise is now just a matter of decibels. ” Since the successive confinements, our ears have become unaccustomed to noise. The result is that we are now less tolerant to noise pollutionwhether they arise in the home or in the workplace explains Romain Bendavid, director of corporate expertise and work experience at Ifop.
The hybridization of working methods amplifies this intolerance.
By getting used to telecommuting in peace, from their home, two to three days a week, workers develop a form of noise aversion when they find their very expensive open-space.
Result: 51% of working people say they are bothered by noise, compared to 49% in 2021, reveals the 6th wave of the Ifop-JNA barometer, carried out in September 2022 among 1118 working people. Unsurprisingly, workers and working people in the Ile-de-France region suffer the most from this noise pollution (65%). Moreover, the latter are no longer the sole prerogative of workers in industry and construction. “ In trade, which includes car repair, transport, storage, accommodation and catering, 61% of workers complain about noise pollution, proof that the problem is not confined to the sectors already known “says Romain Bendavid.
The constant hubbub of an open space can be a factor of hardship
Protean sources of noise
According to the Ifop barometer, several sources of noise are singled out by working people:
- that coming from outside the premises (35% of responses),
- the comings and goings of people (28%),
- conversations between colleagues (27%),
- telephone or videoconference conversations (24%)
- as well as the equipment used such as printers and computers (23%)
” When open-spaces appeared in the 1960s, it was for two reasons: to promote the link between employees and to facilitate the circulation of information. Today, this mode of organization is a source of conflict, stress, fatigue, because of the noise pollution it generates. Noise culture divides, whereas it was made to unite”, notes Jean-Luc Puel, president of the JNA association.
The harmful impact of noise at work
According to the barometer, noise pollution has harmful consequences on labor relations and then, by ricochet effect, on the well-being of workers. Noise generates:
- of misunderstanding with supervisors (for 48% of respondents),
- of aggressiveness in exchanges (for 45%),
- of the tensions or some Conflicts within the work team (41%)
- even withdrawal behaviors (37%).
For 53% of teleworkers, this discomfort due to noise could make them flee face-to-face.
What solutions against noise at work?
” The noise problem, companies are aware of it, but do not address it yet. There is a form of inertia on the employers’ side “says Romain Bendavid. Only 28% offer their employees personal protective equipment such as noise canceling headphones or some earplugs, yet inexpensive. There is no doubt that those who do are directly affected by the legal obligation not to exceed a certain decibel level (85dB) such as factories, farms, concert halls…
Furthermore, only 23% of employers offer fallback spaces to allow employees to isolate themselves from noise. For the JNA association, this is insufficient and it is time to move up a gear. Especially since in the event of hearing impairment resulting from high sound exposure, employees are at a loss: 58% do not know how to react.
The role of managers and occupational physicians
The first avenue to explore is to increase prevention actions, while a quarter of the world’s population will be affected by a hearing problem in 2050 according to the WHO. After all, respecting the calm of a place is above all ” a question of common sense calling on the rules of living together “recalls Romain Bendavid.
The managers must, in turn, be trained to learn how to regulate this noise.
“ Finally, hearing screening must be better offered by occupational physicians who, until now, were rather focused on visual screening », indicates Jean-Charles Ceccato, vice-president of JNA.
To (re) read: 6 solutions found by companies to offer better concentration to employees who need it
examples of solutions implemented in 2018 in 6 companies.