A person in the midst of experiencing one often can’t complete basic tasks at work. 

It can be difficult for people who have never experienced this chronic condition to imagine how it must feel. This lack of understanding can lead to problems in the workplace, as well as become costly and stressful for employers and employees.

With one out of every six people experiencing migraines (and the attacks being most prevalent during the productive professional years between age 25 and 55), it is a ubiquitous and disabling problem that employers need to take seriously. 

Employers can help migraine patients by implementing practical strategies that will reduce the impact they have on the employee and the business.  Here are four practical ways to better support employees with migraine disease at work. 

Raise Awareness About Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Implementing migraine education programs for all staff, not just the people with migraine, can increase productivity levels by as much as 36%, according to research published in 2020. Programs can include providing guest speakers or employees with the opportunity to communicate about their experience with the disease to their colleagues, describing what their attacks are like, and what type of support is most helpful.

Employers can help people with migraine in their workforce better understand their own condition by distributing educational material about the disease, the common triggers, the effect of lifestyle changes to mitigate symptoms, and some possible pharmacological interventions. 

Many migraine cases are not diagnosed – and many people mistake migraine for other types of headaches, such as a sinus headache. Information can help patients identify their condition and then proactively speak with a healthcare provider about it. The previously mentioned research study showed that after six months, one awareness program resulted in a 25% reduction in missed workdays due to an attack, and a 32% reduction in days worked with an attack.

Implement Migraine Management Programs

The key to improving the symptoms that migraine attack can cause is prompt and effective treatment and management. According to research cited in Harvard Business Review, employers who provide migraine management programs have experienced a 50% decrease in absenteeism and an equally sharp increase in productivity with employees taking an average of 10.8 fewer days off a year. Programs can be medical assessments, diagnostic surveys, lifestyle audits, dietary analysis, migraine management skills, or a combination of these. These programs can be costly, but companies who have implemented them say that they are a good investment. Migraine management programs provide practical prevention and management techniques to employees, from identifying triggers to coping with a migraine at work.

Employers can consider covering specialty migraine care as an employee benefit. Modern, accessible digital platforms like Neura Health, the virtual headache and migraine clinic I founded, can be a helpful resource for patients to get personalized treatment for migraine disease to help make their condition more manageable – and help make them more productive at work.

Create A Supportive Working Environment

Migraine attacks are sometimes stigmatized as an excuse for getting out of work – but the truth is, migraine is a debilitating disease that requires empathy, support and compassion. 

Taking a look at the working environment and adapting it to be more supportive of employees with migraine is one of the first things employers should do. Many of these changes are cost-effective and will make a world of difference:

  • Improve accessibility to resources like gyms, medical care, and physical therapy can have a direct impact on the frequency and severity of migraine attacks
  • Implement policies that reduce triggers – such as like improving air quality, and eliminating strong smells and harsh lighting. For example, consider only allowing the consumption of food in the break room or cafeteria, invest in blue light screen filters and service air conditioning systems regularly.
  • Ensure that managers and co-workers know how to assist and empathize with someone having a migraine attack. This will drastically reduce the stress a sufferer might experience – and stress is the universal trigger for migraine. A work environment where people with migraine do not fear persecution for their condition has a direct impact on productivity. 

Studies show that over the past 20 years, US employers have lost at least $13 billion in productivity due to migraine disease. 89% of this productivity loss is due to reduced productivity while employees are working amidst an attack. Employees with migraine miss an average of 4.4 workdays per year due to migraine attacks, and they spend an additional 11.4 days per year with reduced productivity, which can cost employers even more than actual absences.

So it makes sense for employers to implement strategies and provide tools in the workplace that will help their employees who experience this challenging disease. They will also discover that the rest of the workforce also benefits and they’ll have happier, more productive staff as well as a healthier bottom line.


  • Elizabeth Burstein

    CEO and Co-Founder of Neura Health

    Liz Burstein is CEO and Co-Founder of Neura Health. She founded Neura Health based on her personal journey with chronic pain, which exposed her to the key challenges of specialist access and care quality that patients face when navigating chronic neurological conditions. Previously Liz led product development teams at digital health companies Maven Clinic and Zocdoc. She started her career in product management at LinkedIn, where she shipped many core products across both the consumer and enterprise side of the business. Liz also spent time as a venture capital investor focused on enterprise AI, healthcare, and consumer technology. She holds dual degrees in Computer Science and Philosophy from Stanford University.