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Monday, January 21, 2013

Jobs and Stress

Do you find your job stressful?

Mine has gotten less stressful since my job description was changed to accommodate my hearing loss. Previously, a small part of my duties included answering patron requests at an information desk. The questions asked could be on any subject under the sun and were usually voiced by people I had never spoken with previously. To manage, I relied on lipreading (not an exact science, as you know) in addition to my hearing aids and supplemental assistive listening devices. Still, I struggled, needing to write things down and ask for repeats.

Some of the problem was the acoustics of the room. The location of the information desk at my library is in an open area. Sounds from nearby HVAC equipment and library photocopiers and printers get amplified by my hearing aids interfering with my speech comprehension. There was also the problem of human behavior. Patrons would speak to my back from three feet or more away and I would have no idea they were there waiting for me to respond. When they approached me from the front, and I would step away from the desk to accompany them to a computer workstation, they would walk ahead of me and continue the conversation unknowing that I was not hearing what they said. One of my greatest fears was that a patron was going to make a complaint against me. Because of all this, I found my desk shifts very stressful and would be so tense I often got a headache afterwards. The mental strain always wiped me out for the rest of the day.

When a new library director came on staff temporarily, she asked me directly about my job. When I told her honestly what my experience at the information desk was like, she sought out an accommodation on my behalf. This process included my writing an official accommodation request letter to her to have my job description rewritten so that these duties could be performed by text rather than voice communication. With the letter I submitted a statement from my audiologist. It took some time, but human resources eventually signed off on her approval of my accommodation, my job description was changed, and the information placed in my employee file. Now, I contribute to the library's operations, behind the scenes, by working on the website and digital archives and answering questions sent to the library through email. This is a much better fit for me.

What do you think are the least stressful jobs?

I love a good list, especially, a top ten list, don't you? Some of the fun comes from debating the choices selected. CNBC recently posted a list of the 10 Least Stressful Jobs. Would you believe that librarian came in at #9? The median salary they post for the career is one I've never reached despite years in the field. The other part I found laughable was the comment "Books don't talk back or criticize the job you're doing." Interestingly, audiologist was picked for #6. Do you think  librarians and audiologists have low-stress jobs? How do they compare with yours?


Anonymous said...

Most areas I have cleaned. I have not found stressful unless Supervisors started something not to do with my job. The only areas I find stressful otherwise is Wards, which they don't give me, as i don't want to clean around people.

Before I was moved last December, my area was offices. I seen people, but I did not mind chatting to them. Offices much quieter than wards. But now I am on a clinic after my request for this particular clinic as there was no way I was going onto a ward. The thought terrified me.

I thought I'd be ok with this clinic, but I wish I took offer on looking first now, as it is too much to do for hours I do. Amongst other things. I can see this area in long run also causing other health issues too, so I could see me not making retirement while on here, where if I go somewhere else where its just me responsible for an area, another clinic like I once done before that I found ok. Then there should be no problem.

I am hoping I will get somewhere else but nowt said since before I was off sick. In meantime I am back to job hunting and hoping my self employment is some success.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean! I am a reference librarian, children's librarian, Teen Services librarian, and the branch manager. I rely on CapTel phones for the telephone reference, however, the delay on the captioning sometimes causes problems. Also, some people talk too fast on the phone or have accents which the captionist cannot pick-up. Like you, I lip-read patrons and it certainly is not an exact science. I have confused "Phonics" with "Finance" and requested wrong items because I misunderstood. I, too, have encountered people who talked behind me or talked while walking in front of me. Storytimes can be stressful if the children are talking to me. My son, age 5, is much better than my husband at making sure that I can see him while he is talking to me.

Holly said...

Yes, I've encountered this situation a lot at the Reference Desk. I used an interpretype for awhile, but the patrons had mixed reactions to it because it was something they weren't familiar with.

I ended up getting on a virtual reference staff doing chat reference and that has made all the difference in the world.

Getting a CI has also helped tremendously, and kudos to CI audiologists who work tirelessly to try to help us here when they have no way of really knowing how we hear.