Absentéisme : le défi permanent des managers (1)

DH Magazine n°125 - M. Pat SEILER

Près de 11% des arrêts maladie ne seraient pas justifiés, d’après la CNAMTS. Eric Woerth envisagerait davantage de contrôles pour traquer les abus, quitte à étendre la démarche à la fonction publique.

C’est l’occasion de se pencher sur un problème rarement ignoré, parfois sous-estimé et souvent stigmatisé en ce qu’il révèlerait la paresse naturelle des agents, cliché éculé et volontiers attribué à la fonction publique : l’absentéisme.

Problème humain et complexe, le phénomène mérite davantage que des jugements de valeur et des idées préconçues, lesquels engendrent des solutions toutes faites génératrices d’effets pervers.

Surcharge de travail pour les présents entraînant une « lassitude », manque de reconnaissance des efforts de ces derniers provoquant une démotivation, incompréhensions entre présents et absents portant préjudice à la solidarité entre équipes, perte de confiance dans l’organisation même, dialogue de sourds entre direction et représentants du personnel sur les raisons de l’absentéisme, toutes ces conséquences, notamment d’ordre social, sont connues.

De quel absentéisme parle-t-on ?

La prévention et la lutte contre ce fléau doit se concentrer sur les absences non prévues, pour lesquelles l’organisation du travail n’a pas été anticipée. On entend donc par cette expression l’absence de l’agent au moment où il devrait juridiquement se trouver dans le lien de subordination de son supérieur hiérarchique. Cette définition exclut par conséquent les moments où l’employeur s’attend à ce que l’agent soit absent (ex. congé parental, congé de paternité, congé de maternité).

Trois formes d’absentéisme se distinguent : l’absentéisme « structurel », « conjoncturel » et « intentionnel. »

L’absentéisme dit structurel est indépendant de toute mesure interne à l’employeur, et pour lequel les moyens d’action sont faibles.

La forme conjoncturelle vise les arrêts de travail pour accidents de service, de trajet ou maladie professionnelle. Les accidents de service peuvent avoir des causes matérielles (absence d’utilisation des moyens de prévention ou de sécurité, etc.). On ne peut faire l’économie d’une approche méthodique et d’une politique volontariste en la matière. La maladie non professionnelle doit, à mon sens, être intégrée à l’absentéisme « conjoncturel. »

La forme intentionnelle est la plus insidieuse et se terre dans toutes les formes d’absentéisme. Elle naît de la démotivation et du désengagement issus de situations de travail ou relationnelles mal tolérées. Si elle est intentionnelle, elle n’est pas pour autant consciente. On la trouve dans les absences non autorisées, la maladie rémunérée, et dans certains accidents. Ce n’est pas que les agents « s’auto-accidentent » volontairement, mais la démotivation les amène à commettre des erreurs ou à être moins vigilants dans leurs gestes professionnels.

C’est cette dernière forme qui doit attirer l’attention des directeurs des ressources humaines.

Le temps de l’analyse et de l’expertise

La mesure de la situation doit nécessairement passer par une étude minutieuse des chiffres à disposition, issus notamment des données du bilan social. L’important, c’est de mettre au point une base de données la plus exhaustive possible. C’est ce qu’il est convenu d’appeler l’analyse quantitative. Cette dernière doit permettre d’effectuer a minima les calculs suivants :

  • le taux d’absentéisme de moins de 4 jours, de 4 à 7 jours, de 8 à 15 jours et plus de 15 jours,
  • la durée moyenne des absences,
  • les jours critiques de début d’absences et de fin d’absences,
  • le taux d’absentéisme par sexe,
  • le taux d’absentéisme par tranche d’âge et par ancienneté,
  • le taux d’absentéisme par statut, par établissement et par service.

Le traitement de ces données peut s’opérer de trois façons.

Le « traitement à plat », comme son nom l’indique, aboutit à obtenir des résultats purement statistiques de sorte que des zones de sinistralité pourront apparaître afin d’identifier les catégories ou les populations plus particulièrement porteuses du phénomène. Cette étape est nécessaire mais ne saurait suffire à elle seule.

Le traitement comparatif suppose l’utilisation d’un ou plusieurs indicateurs. Le taux d’absentéisme comparé au taux national ou à celui de l’année précédente est souvent plus révélateur que l’indicateur seul. Quatre types de comparaisons sont possibles :

  • des comparaisons avec des indicateurs externes : indicateur des établissements de même taille ou des établissements de la même région, par exemple ;
  • des comparaisons avec des indicateurs internes : comparaisons entre services, entre métiers ou encore comparaisons par sexe ou par tranche d’âge ;
  • des comparaisons avec des indicateurs semi-externes : comparaisons entre pôles d’un même établissement ou entre sites d’un même centre hospitalier ;
  • des comparaisons dans le temps : d’une année sur l’autre, d’un semestre sur l’autre, d’un trimestre sur l’autre, d’un mois sur l’autre…

Le traitement par corrélations représente une analyse très riche consistant à rapprocher le nombre de jours d’absence avec d’autres données, telles que le nombre de jours d’absence corrélé à l’effectif ou l’âge, ou encore l’évolution de l’absentéisme avec le volume de travail. C’est en comparant l’évolution de la qualité qu’on découvre parfois un lien entre l’absentéisme et la pénibilité, par exemple.

Vient ensuite l’analyse qualitative, phase essentielle dès lors que les chiffres ne peuvent expliquer à eux seuls l’ampleur d’un phénomène, sauf à vouloir mener une politique hors sol, en dépit du bon sens. Cette analyse peut se résumer en quatre points :

  1. représentativité de l’échantillon (1)
  2. ouverture d’un entretien (2)
  3. restitution des éléments d’information (3)
  4. retour d’information (4)

(1) Il s’agit d’établir un échantillon reprenant toutes les caractéristiques de la population d’un établissement. Toutes les catégories, tous les âges, toutes les anciennetés et tous les services doivent être représentés. Selon l’effectif, cet échantillon peut être reconstitué avec 20 à 60 personnes. Lorsque les effectifs d’un établissement dépassent le millier de personnels, 10% peuvent suffire à établir une image fidèle de l’ensemble. Le choix des personnes se révèlera déterminant sur le résultat de cette analyse.

(2) Les questions issues de l’entretien doivent permettre une expression large et libre. Opinions comme événements doivent être recueillis sans restriction.

(3) Il faut distinguer la restitution intégrale qui reprend mot pour mot ce qu’on dit les agents. Un second niveau relève de la synthèse commentée et porte un regard sur ce qui a été dit en fonction de la fréquence et de l’intérêt de ce qui a été révélé. Ces restitutions seront faites au comité de direction mais aussi à tous les acteurs qui participeront au plan d’action qui en découlera.

(4) Le retour d’information devra être effectué auprès des collaborateurs qui ont participé à cette enquête ainsi qu’à l’ensemble du personnel, afin de remercier les participants, pour avancer dans une logique de transparence que nécessite toute action contre l’absentéisme, et enfin pour sensibiliser le personnel car généralement l’information du personnel sur les résultats de l’enquête qualitative a pour effet de commencer à réduire l’absentéisme.

Ainsi l’analyse qualitative permet non pas de valider à coup sûr les causes mais assurément d’écarter les fausses pistes de l’analyse quantitative. Faute d’accomplir ce travail, les conjectures foisonneraient et le passage à la décision s’avérerait impossible.

Omar YAHIA

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