September 21, 2022

How to Support Employees Living with Migraine

How to Support Employees Living with Migraine Survey

Learn about a survey that discovered employees want their employers to empathize more.

The Migraine Association of Ireland (MAI) distributed the Migraine in the Workplace survey back in 2021. A total of 400 participants were asked about how migraine affects their work, careers, workplace accommodations and more. Many people living with migraine stated that their illness interferes with their work and that they feel their employers do not provide enough support for their conditions.

Despite being the third most common disease in the world, migraine is considered an “invisible disease.” Many people have misconceptions or misunderstandings about it. Sometimes, it may even cause the workplace to be a discriminating space. Though many survey participants reported that migraine interferes with their performance, it was found that employers do not provide the support and resources that can help their employees. Read on to learn more about the results and what employers can do to support their employees living with migraine.

What the Survey Discovered

The survey found 82% of participants reported that migraine directly impacted their professional lives. This included their confidence, ability to make decisions, clarity of thoughts and time management. Surveyors also said migraine caused anxiety and generally made the day difficult to get through. Other participants reported that their disease affected their sick leave record, which impacted their promotional prospects. In other cases, some employees had to switch to part-time and 22% of participants even changed careers entirely.

Despite migraine causing such disruptions, the survey indicated that employers did not provide adequate accommodations for their employees. Only 20% of employers offered support and accommodations for employees with migraine. An even lower 9% reported that their employer supported ergonomic accommodations for those with chronic conditions. 

In addition, an overwhelming 85% hoped that their work colleagues would be more understanding of migraine and how it is a debilitating illness. The survey indicated that migraine impacts employees’ performance and professional lives, but their employers did not provide enough understanding and support.

How Employers Can Support Their Employees

As the survey indicated, employees with migraine expressed a desire for their employers and coworkers to be more understanding and more aware of what exactly migraine is—a debilitating illness. Employers are responsible for ensuring the workplace is a safe space for employees, and it starts with understanding.

Migraine is a neurological disease with many symptoms and the second leading cause of disability in the world. It can interfere with people’s daily lives, and their jobs are no exception. Companies can create a more supportive workplace by acknowledging and addressing that first. Accommodations can also be made for those who live with migraine. Some accommodations employers can work out with their employees include flexible schedules, work-from-home options and office arrangements (e.g., quiet rooms, dimmer lights, desk located in a quieter part of the office, etc.).

Education programs like IHS-GPAC’s Migraine Fitness at Work™ program are one of the best ways to create a supportive and understanding environment for employees living with migraine. 

Fujitsu Limited, a Tokyo-based information technology company, conducted an education program with the help of IHS-GPAC for 73,000 of its employees—about 91% of their Japan workforce. The result was an overwhelming success, with 71% of the participating employees stating that they now understand that migraine is a debilitating disease and 90% of employees calling the program beneficial.

Employees with migraine already have a lot to manage due to their disease, and having migraine interfere with their career and professional life is another burden. Understanding is the first step to creating a more accommodating environment in the workplace. You can support your employees and coworkers by learning more about migraine.

Incorporate migraine resources into your company today and support your employees. Check out IHS-GPAC’s Migraine Fitness at Work program for more information.


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