The subject of GPEC rarely excites the masses. Indeed, it is often synonymous with broken promises and useless regulatory gimmicks. But don’t give up just yet, because things are changing!
In fact, over the past few months, and at the time of writing, the subject of GPEC has come up more and more in the discussions of our contacts. This strange temporality owes nothing to chance, since 2024 will be a GPEC year. Here are some explanations.
What are we talking about?
Depending on the company, you may come across the following terms:
- GPEC: Gestion Prévisionnelle des Emplois et des Compétences (forward-looking management of jobs and skills)
- GEPP: Gestion des Emplois et Parcours Professionnels or GEPPMM (with the addition of Mixité des Métiers, with more and more letters, just to scare you)
- SWP: Strategic Workforce Planning, an offensive expression for the guardians of the Toubon law.
This avalanche of acronyms*, which will delight fans of alphabet soup, is often used interchangeably. We won’t insult you with a detailed explanation of what they mean, as resources on the subject abound. But a few reminders are in order.
Initially, the aim of setting up GPEC agreements was to encourage companies with over 300 employees to provide their staff with visibility on the evolution of their professions and skills, with a view to ensuring their employability. This was obviously theoretically virtuous, but in practice rather cumbersome and restrictive.
Aware of this, the legislator (the Rebsamen laws and then the Macron ordinances) gradually transformed this system into the GEPPMM, which beyond the name change, brought the following evolutions:
- An obligation to negotiate with social partners, but no longer an obligation to reach agreement
- The introduction of Career Paths, intended to give a more dynamic dimension to employee support.
- Mixed job objectives, i.e. to avoid exceeding the 65%-35% ratio between men and women in a given job.
Has this put the GPEC to rest? No, because it’s still part of the system, and everyone continues to use the term.
As for gender diversity objectives, they are statistically absent from published agreements.
Despite these evolutions, the approach still suffers from a poor image, and seems to be perceived only through the prism of social dialogue, rather than as a genuine strategic device at the service of the company.
So why now?
Yet 2024 will be a year of GPEC in France. The reason is purely mathematical:
- The Macron ordinances date from 2017, but the implementing decrees only came out in December of that year, so the agreements were signed in 2018
- Negotiations are triennial
- 2018 + 3 + 3 = 2024
By analogy, we can compare this cycle to that of professional elections. All companies had to hold their elections at roughly the same time when the representative bodies were reformed (the creation of the CSE). As the duration of mandates is the same for all, everyone is called to the polls at the same time.
What’s more, the timeframe corresponds closely to economic cycles. Social dialogue in 2022 and 2023 has focused mainly on compensation, value sharing and… teleworking. Unsurprisingly, in a world of inflation and changing relationships with work.
But now that these topics have been addressed, wouldn’t it be time in 2024 to tackle GPEC a little more seriously, and give it back its letters of nobility? Perhaps even taking advantage of the windfall effect created by the trend towards “skills-based organizations”?
Where does SWP fit into all this?
As we have seen, GPEC (or GEPP, or GEPPMM) suffers from its strong connotation as a “social and regulatory device”. A bit like QWL in its day, or even telework.
To counter this negative image, there’s nothing like a little marketing and the language of Shakespeare. QWL thus became “well being” or the “future of work”, telecommuting became “hybrid working”, and GPEC… became SWP!
This rebranding is necessary for several reasons:
- GPEC is a purely French legal provision. However, the challenges faced by major groups are global. The only way to have a harmonized international vision is to use the universally accepted term Strategic Workforce Planning.
- In SWP, the S is very important: it links business issues with human issues.
- By detaching itself from the official nomenclature, it loses its binding regulatory aspect.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that SWP isn’t useful for GPEC – quite the contrary! But it does allow us to reverse the direction of priorities: first we build something useful for the organization, which will then feed into all the classic applications – training, mobility, recruitment, diversity, social dialogue…
Your SWP in 2024
Nobody needs convincing of the importance of a SWP approach. For more than 10 years, it has been systematically cited as one of the top 3 HR topics by BCG. However, it has often been overlooked.
What if we took advantage of the context of 2024 to change our approach? What if we invited the professions, Business Unit managers and Finance to take part in a collaborative project to drive business development? What if we were to return to the long term and plan ahead, without sacrificing agility? You bet!
*For the purists: only GPEC is an acronym when pronounced “jépék”, the others are acronyms.