Absenteeism at work has continued to rise since the health crisis

Absenteeism at work has continued to rise since the health crisis
Absenteeism at work has continued to rise since the health crisis

Lhe Covid pandemic has left lasting marks on the well-being of French workers. This is one of the main conclusions of the 2024 edition of Datascope, AXA’s corporate life observatory, a major survey which takes into account data from 3 million employees, mainly on absenteeism at work. work.

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Main lessons from this new edition which covers the year 2023: “maintaining absenteeism at a high level, the continued progression of long-term sick leave [plus de six mois, NDLR] and the ever-increasing share of psychological disorders, particularly among young people,” according to Diane Milleron-Deperrois, general manager of AXA health and collectives.
READ ALSO Do 18-30 year olds really have a different relationship to work than their elders?

The absenteeism rate increased by 4.2% in 2023 compared to the previous year – while 2022 was an extraordinary year due to the Covid Omicron wave – bringing its increase to 31% since 2019, last year before the health crisis. As a reminder, the absenteeism rate corresponds to the number of days of inactivity divided by the total number of calendar days over a given period.

Likewise, the percentage of employees absent at least one day during the year remains at a very high level, 34%, comparable to that of 2020… the year of the first wave of Covid. Enough to question the health of employees, and particularly their psychological health.

Psychological disorders on the rise

Psychological disorders are now the leading cause of long-term sick leave (no less than a quarter of them). By psychological disorders, we mean anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, major depressive disorders or burn-out (professional exhaustion). They are thus continuing their worrying progression since before the pandemic (+ 6 points compared to 2019).

This observation is consistent with that of the 12e barometer of the Human Footprint firm, end of 2023. 48% of employees surveyed said they were in psychological distress (including 17% very high). The cause of this discomfort? For seven out of ten employees, it was clear: their work.

Women very affected…

The AXA Datascore reveals a particularly clear increase in psychological disorders among women, “where they are by far the main cause of long-term sick leave” (31%, or 10 points more compared to 2019).

“Many working women have to balance their work, the education of their children and sometimes also take on the role of caregiver for their elderly parents,” comments Géraldine Mandefield, founding director of Verbateam, a specialist in corporate health prevention. The AXA Prévention study reveals that 81% of women put the health of their loved ones before their own. They therefore put their health on hold while their life context makes them more subject to risks linked to stress, exhaustion, burn-out, etc. »

…but young people too

Another striking lesson from this study is that psychological disorders affect an increasingly young population. Thus, they have gained +9.5 points among those under 30 in just four years. As a result, the average age at which they occur has fallen from 43.3 years in 2019 to 41.6 years in 2023, a drop of 1.7 years!

For comparison, the Datascope authors emphasize that “the average age at the onset of musculoskeletal disorders is characterized on the contrary by its great stability: 45.8 years compared to 45.7 years in 2019.”

The majority of young employees suffer from major depressive disorders (60.2%), as well as more and more burn-out (21%) and anxiety disorders (12%). As a result of the increase in psychological disorders, the rate of absenteeism among those under 30 increased by 30% between 2019 and 2023, for an average duration which has gained almost 5% over the same period.

More numerous and longer stops: this is in line with all the studies on the (poor) mental health of young French people: Public Health France recalled at the end of 2023 that 18-24 year olds were 20.8% affected by the depression in 2021, compared to 11.7% in 2017. It seems that this discomfort does not stop the moment they open the doors of a company.READ ALSO “The antidote to stress at work is not relaxation, it’s concentration”

At the other end of the age pyramid of employees, the absenteeism rate of those over 55 in business remains at a high level in 2023 (6%), with a significant increase in the duration of work stoppages.

As for seniors, the pathologies causing long-term absences are mainly musculoskeletal disorders with 26.7% of long-term absences (compared to 21.9% in 2019). This progression must, however, be put into perspective with the increase in working hours, which leads to a logical increase in the number of seniors in companies.

Less absenteeism among teleworking employees?

“This new situation at work undoubtedly offers mixed results, and requires adaptation from all stakeholders,” concludes the study carried out by AXA. “Legacy” of the health crisis, the generalization of teleworking thus shows disparities, in terms of absenteeism, between employees who can practice it and others.

According to AXA, employees who practice teleworking have a lower rate of absenteeism (–23% in 2023) than employees who do not practice it. The duration of work stoppages is also lower on average: – 7 days in 2023, when teleworking. Figures to put into perspective since teleworking is not applicable in all sectors.

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