Every ten seconds someone in the United States goes to the emergency room with a headache or migraine due to its severity and pain, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.

Other research shows:

  • Migraines and headaches rank in the top 20 of the world’s most disabling medical illnesses.
  • More than 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from migraines.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. households includes someone with a migraine.
  • More than 90 percent of sufferers are unable to work or function normally.

The Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) recently shared a study titled “Sharing The Pain” that examines productivity of employees who suffer from migraines or headaches in the workplace

The Problem with Migraines and Headaches is that it Impacts Employee Productivity

Migraines/headaches have a significant impact on employee productivity. According to the study, individuals with this condition reported performing at a lower level and are absent more often than other workers who do not have a history of having migraines or headaches. As an employer, this condition presents a challenge that has the potential to undermine productivity and efficiency.


A migraine is a debilitating neurological symptom that includes intense throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head causing dizziness, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. These symptoms can last for hours and can occur episodically or frequently.

Within the IBI survey of 32,545 employees’ from nine employers they found:

  • Two-thirds of employees who suffer from headaches reported being bothered by their condition “sometimes” or “a lot.”
  • 38 percent of employees with migraines and 75 percent of employees with severe headaches have never received treatment for their condition.
  • Within a 28-day timeframe headache sufferers missed between 0.6 and 0.8 work days.
  • As headache frequency increased, job performance declined and illness-related absenteeism increased.

What does Choosing Wisely say about migraines and headaches?

Choosing Wisely has produced the following materials to help physicians and patients make smart and effective decisions about treating headaches.

The Solution

The IBI suggest helping employees manage chronic headaches by:

  • Promoting migraine awareness in the workplace.
  • Developing benefit plans that cover a range of treatment options.
  • Offering resources to help analyze the symptoms of headaches such as a diary/journal and access to water and pain relievers.

Offering resources such as these will not only improve employees’ quality of life but also their productivity on the job.

Conclusion on Migraines and Headaches Impact Employee Productivity

As an employer, you are looking out for both the best interest of the company and the needs of your employees. Creating a culture that understands diseases and illnesses shows that you value those individuals. To learn more about IBI and their research visit www.ibiweb.org.

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Tierney Anderson

Tierney Anderson

Tierney Anderson joined The Alliance in 2009 and currently served as the cooperative’s marketing & events specialist until 2019. She previously served as marketing and member services coordinator. Her responsibilities include the development of effective communications and marketing materials for Alliance members and business partners by executing marketing plans and promoting products, services and events. 
In addition to her work at The Alliance, Tierney is an active member on The Business Forum, previously serving on the board and acting as senior chair for the ATHENA committee. Tierney also participates in the Advertising Federation of Madison and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network of Madison. 
Tierney earned her bachelor’s degree of business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with an emphasis in information systems and a certification on the Project Management Body of Knowledge. 

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