October 27, 2021

How Addressing and Understanding Migraine Improved the Workplace for One Company

Understanding migraine

Learn how one leading technology company took migraine education into its own hands with a video-based educational program—and what results the company saw.

Leading technology company Fujitsu worked with IHS-GPAC to implement a video-based Workplace Initiative to educate their employees on migraine and headache, provide workplace support for employees and reduce stigma in the workplace.

To address migraine, the IHS-GPAC Workplace Initiative provides the education and resources to learn about migraine and other headache disorders. When a company implements the Workplace Initiative in their organization, employees watch the series of educational videos to learn more about the impact of migraine and headache in the workplace and how these diseases are managed.

Left unaddressed, migraine can have a measurably negative effect on workplace productivity. Before implementing its Workplace Initiative, Fujitsu was experiencing:

  • 17% migraine prevalence. Migraine was present in more than 5,100 Fujitsu employees surveyed.¹
  • 50% productivity loss. Fujitsu employees were 50% less productive during a migraine attack.¹

At Fujitsu, the IHS-GPAC Workplace Initiative had a measurable influence on individual understanding of migraine and headache. The company saw a significant reduction in stigma and an increase in knowledge of migraine and headache among employees. Out of more than 30,000 participants, headache awareness changed significantly in 13% of participants and changed moderately in 59.8% of participants¹. Following completion of the program:

  • 71% of employees now understand that headache is a disease that greatly interferes with one’s daily life—up from about 20% before completing the program.¹
  • 76% of employees said that “the way they treat colleagues with headaches is likely to change” after completing the program.¹
  • 90% of employees said that the program was beneficial.¹

Education is an invaluable part of raising awareness and reducing stigma of migraine and headache. It is IHS-GPAC’s goal to have every workplace be supportive and improve the quality of life for employees with migraine. Listening and understanding these employees will reduce the burden of migraine in the workplace.

How can employers understand employee health concerns?

Focus on providing a more supportive workplace for those with migraine and headache disorders. Listen and understand employee needs if they come to you with health concerns. That includes requests for time off due to migraine or complaints about stigma in the workplace. Make sure it’s clear that you hear and understand them, and offer any support they need. Employers can also take steps to create a migraine-friendly workplace by mitigating common migraine triggers. These include bright lights and fragranced products.

What resources can employers offer for employees with migraine?

For employees seeking resources, our patient resources page can be helpful when getting started. The workplace initiative toolkit, designed to outline the program for understanding migraine and headache advocates, is an excellent resource if your employees with migraine would like to bring the initiative to the table at your company or raise awareness in their communities.

As an employer, you can offer your employees with migraine or headache time off for healthcare appointments and provide accommodations in your workplace to reduce common migraine triggers.

What should companies know about migraine?

Companies should understand that migraine is a real, prevalent and debilitating condition that affects 1 in 7 people. That’s more than a billion people worldwide. That means it is highly likely that one or more of your employees deals with migraine or another headache disorder. These conditions cause a loss of productivity not only through absenteeism but also presenteeism, which occurs when an employee is present at work but isn’t as productive as they could be. Not only does presenteeism lead to decreased productivity, but it also reduces employee satisfaction in the workplace. In addition, migraine costs companies up to an estimated $50 billion in the U.S. and €88.3 billion in the EU annually.¹

Due to stigma and lack of resources, your employees with migraine might never seek treatment. They may also face discrimination from their coworkers. It is crucial that companies take time to address migraine in the workplace to reduce stigma and foster a culture of understanding, empathy and wellness. Our Workplace Initiative partners can help educate your employees to make your workplace happier, healthier and more supportive for those with migraine.

How can coworkers learn more about migraine and help their colleagues?

It is imperative that coworkers learn and recognize how migraine impacts their colleagues. This not only reduces stigma but also helps improve workplace morale and overall productivity. To better understand their colleagues and what they may be going through, coworkers can access resources and learn more about what migraine is here.

There are steps employees can take to help their coworkers with migraine feel supported and understood. Employees can avoid using fragrances, for example, and be aware of other common migraine triggers in the workplace.

Employees should avoid pressuring a coworker with migraine to be more productive while they’re experiencing a migraine attack. This is damaging and can negatively impact morale. Coworkers can also help by making an effort to assist with projects if a person with migraine needs to take time for headache healthcare.

How can companies learn more about migraine?

To learn more about migraine, companies can visit the resources section and learn more about the workplace initiative here. In addition to self-education, employers should talk to their employees with migraine to understand their individual perspectives and personal experiences. They should also ask how they can be more supportive in the workplace.

If you want your workplace and employees to benefit from a migraine wellness initiative, contact us at info@ihs-gpac.org.

¹IHS-GPAC Impact Report 2020-2021.

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