How Businesses Can Support Employees Who Suffer From Migraines


By Steven Lee, head of optical product at Zenni Optical. Optometrist and principal inventor in 15+ patent grants. Pioneered online vision testing.

Migraines, a debilitating neurological condition characterized by severe headaches and other symptoms, can have a profound impact on the productivity of individuals in the business world. The impact of migraines on productivity is multifaceted. Migraine sufferers often experience severe pain, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and other symptoms that can make it difficult to concentrate, communicate and perform tasks. These symptoms can last for hours or even days, leading to substantial time away from work. The unpredictable nature of migraines can also make it challenging for sufferers to commit to responsibilities, causing further disruption.

The economic cost of migraines is substantial. A study published in the American Journal of Managed Care estimated the total indirect cost of migraines in the United States to be $19.3 billion, most of which is attributed to full days of productive workforce loss. This figure underscores the urgent need for effective strategies to manage migraines in the workplace.

Fortunately, there are several ways businesses and individuals can counter the impact of migraines on productivity. These include creating a supportive work environment, promoting awareness and understanding of migraines, implementing flexible work policies and offering resources about effective treatments and preventive measures.

Creating a supportive work environment involves offering accommodations for those with migraines, such as designating a quiet, dimly lit retreat for use during a migraine attack. Additional supportive measures could include offering regular breaks to prevent eye strain for those working on computers, ensuring easy access to water to promote hydration (which may help prevent migraines) and allowing employees to adjust the brightness of their workspace. Companies can also enhance awareness and understanding of migraines among all employees by hosting informational sessions, sharing resources on the company intranet about migraines and other common conditions, and offering strategies for empathizing with and supporting coworkers who are dealing with any medical condition.

Flexible work policies, such as allowing employees to work remotely or adjust their work hours, can also be beneficial. This flexibility can enable employees to work when they’re feeling well and rest when they’re experiencing a migraine, reducing lost productivity.

Some other ways employers can support employees with migraines include:

1. Provide detailed information on healthcare plans: Make sure employees fully understand the coverage offered by their health insurance. This could include providing detailed documentation or hosting informational sessions to explain what treatments, medications or services are covered under their health plan.

2. Connect employees with specialists: Provide a list of local medical specialists who focus on migraines and other common health conditions. Making this information readily available can help employees access the care they need more quickly.

3. Host wellness workshops: Bring in healthcare professionals to conduct workshops on managing migraines and other common health conditions. These workshops could cover topics such as stress management, diet and nutrition, exercise and the use of assistive devices like FL-41 lenses.

Remember, each individual’s experience with migraines is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s important for employers to promote a culture of understanding and flexibility when it comes to managing health conditions at work.

In conclusion, migraines pose a significant challenge to productivity in the business world, but they are not insurmountable. By fostering a supportive work environment, implementing flexible work policies and exploring effective treatments and preventive measures, businesses can help mitigate the impact of migraines on their employees and their bottom line.


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