Nearly all companies and their employees have been impacted by the pandemic, forcing them to adapt to rapid change. Employees have been asked to take on additional tasks, extend their responsibilities, or work on new teams, often remotely.

According to Fosway, 94 percent of learning and development professionals reported having to change their strategy in response to COVID-19.

The pandemic has forced companies to make investments to accelerate the upskilling and reskilling of their workforce, in areas such as remote collaboration and learning, allowing employees to gain access to relevant and engaging content and guiding them through their next development steps in the most effective way.

At SAP SuccessFactors, we recognize this critical need and are offering organizations a 30-day free trial to SAP Content Stream by Skillsoft, which includes a content catalog focused on business essentials, productivity and collaboration, leadership and digital transformation, and technology.

SAP Content Stream provides learners the ability to watch, listen, read, and practice anywhere, anytime, regardless of learning style, so that employees get the learning they need to support their organization and advance their careers.

How can companies successfully adapt their learning and development programs to change? Two SAP SuccessFactors Learning customers, Rizing LLC and Kirloskar Brothers Limited, spoke with me to explain their company strategies.

Mark O’Donnell, senior vice president of Operational Excellence at Rizing LLC, a global professional service provider headquartered in the U.S., explained how Rizing had started to invest in processes, tools, and content to upskill employees and invest in internal talents prior to the pandemic.

Q: What was your initial challenge and goal when you embarked on your journey of transforming Rizing’s leadership pipeline?

O’Donnell: Rizing was growing rapidly and the skills required to continue this success were changing. To retain the best people, we wanted to ensure our pipeline of leaders had the skills and support needed to flourish in a growing environment. However, at that time, Rizing had no formal learning embedded into the culture, outside of peer-to-peer sharing.

And then you started to use SAP Content Stream to create a leadership development solution suitable for your global employees?

Yes, we started our journey two years ago and rolled out the solution globally. We are convinced that upskilling employees is the key to support business agility. In fact, our recent period of dynamic growth has shown us that organically grown leaders tend to be exceptional performers. This has shifted our focus toward nurturing future leaders from within. Using SAP Content Stream with SAP SuccessFactors Learning helps us to provide our employees with the development path and skills they need to grow into leadership roles.

The feedback has been very positive, and the results have been remarkable. We saw a 400% increase in number of learners, four employees who participated in the program took leadership positions within two years, 100% of participants expect to use the skills they acquired, 91% would recommend SAP Content Stream, and we achieved an 82% successful completion rate.

Those are quite impressive numbers! In your opinion, what were the key factors for achieving this success?

One key factor has been the benefit of customizing our own content, like localization for our employees in Asia, in combination with using the great, available content on SAP Content Stream. Also, it is so much more than just building content and rolling it out efficiently. It is about providing an environment that is engaging to employees, making data-driven decisions, and empowering HR operations to solve real business problems.

Rizing recently received bronze in the Best Unique or Innovative Leadership Development Program category for Brandon Hall Group’s Excellence in Human Capital Management Awards because of its innovative and successful approach. Congratulations! This shows that you already have been very successful in transforming Rizing’s leaders program. How has COVID-19 impacted your learning program?

We have been in a similar situation as other companies, especially with the need to have our employees work from home. With that, we have seen a massive uptake of the content. In just one month, more than 3,000 learning assets — videos, articles, books, and audio — have been completed, and engagement is going through the roof. Topics like working virtually or managing remote teams have shown increased consumption, regardless of geography or line of business. We offer our employees development journeys that include consolidated collections of materials tied to specific development needs to drive engagement and personalization.

Like Rizing, Kirloskar Brothers Limited, a world-class pump manufacturer based in India with expertise in engineering and manufacturing fluid management systems, took on the challenge of building a continuous learning culture. Ravi Sinha, vice president and head of Corporate Human Resource Management and Communications at Kirloskar Brothers Limited, explains.

Q: Can you give more background on the situation you have faced due to COVID-19? All of your classroom trainings were cancelled, but you still had to focus on helping your employees gain new skills. Where did this need come from? Was it an upskilling or a reskilling need?

Sinha: We always had the plan to move to e-learning solutions when we launched SAP SuccessFactors Learning in 2019, primarily because we have seen high quality e-learning content and we have also been engaging with independent trainers to deliver on soft skills or business skills courses. Potential cost reductions and an increase in the number of employees being trained convinced us even more to think about a major shift away from classroom trainings.

Though we wanted to make a gradual shift in introducing e-learning to our employees, COVID-19 pushed us all to imagine new possibilities in a very short span of time. Being a manufacturing organization, we did not have a prevalent practice of working from home. And yet suddenly we found ourselves working to keep our employees positively engaged while they operate from home, train managers on how to handle teams remotely, keep employees’ current skills intact, and, at the same time, ensure business continuity. As our classroom programs were put on hold, we had to think fast on continuous learning opportunities for our employees for both their upskilling and reskilling needs.

You used the free trial of SAP Content Stream and then decided to use the business essentials edition of SAP Content Stream by Skillsoft for 600 employees as a first step. What was the reason for this decision?

During the trial, we saw significant adoption with more than 150 employees of Kirloskar Brothers completing various e-learning courses. Our employees reached out for accessing certain courses even after the trial period was over. We noticed that using SAP Content Stream has created excitement within our employees. They are really valuing it, so we decided to expand the usage. This is going to be a completely new and very transformative experience for our employees.

This sounds very promising. What are your future plans regarding the rollout of SAP Content Stream and establishing more processes to support upskilling and reskilling through digital learning?

We are partnering with some more online learning solution providers for our technical and engineering training needs. Also, we have identified some flagship programs which we are going to drive centrally and evaluate their impact on business results. We believe that SAP Content Stream integrated with SAP SuccessFactors Learning will offer an immense knowledge base to scale up and reap greater business results leading to higher ROI.

The current crisis highlights the fact that the keys to long term success are agility, resilience, and a learning mindset, regardless of industry. A strategy that centers on instilling a culture of continuous learning provides employees with the necessary tools and content to meet their specific learning needs and sets up organizations for immediate change and long-term success. The time to accelerate learning and upskilling is now.

Find out how SAP Content Stream can help you in challenging times and beyond: Start your free trial now.

Margit Bauer is director Solution Marketing for Learning at SAP SuccessFactors.