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Business Challenges
Interim NHS People Plan

Operational Alignment

In order to maximise the benefits to your organisation, it's essential you align your operational processes with recommended best practice, and with your overall expectations from the ESR solution. The information below provides you with a high level overview of the ESR functionality which is relevant to achieving financial control using ESR.

  • + Establishment Control

    Effective Establishment Control, along with good workstructures management ensures your organisations position hierarchy in ESR is reconciled with the general ledger and critically, the Full Time Equivalent (FTE) values are routinely maintained in synchronicity. This in turn ensures appointments are only made to an established post with funding and an authorisation to recruit. Good workstructures management is not only essential for managing your workforce establishment, but is also an important part of ensuring data quality to enable you to provide effective workforce reporting at local and national levels. For further information on how ESR supports the recommendations outlined in the Carter Review click here.

    FTE costing data held against the workforce positions as set-up in ESR can provide valuable information for organisations that are proactively managing their workforce requirements and associated staffing costs. Full utilisation of Establishment Control mechanism in ESR, as recommended by the Carter review, can significantly reduce the time that organisations spend reconciling their financial ledger with ESR whilst providing greater integrity of the recruitment process.

    Benefits include:

    • Ability to monitor and report on vacancies accurately through the use of Establishment Control through ESR BI, providing quick and easy identification of the true vacancy rate
    • Can prevent over recruiting
    • The accurate maintenance of ESR workstructures allows other areas of ESR to be correctly reported and processed, such as sickness reporting and competency requirements
    • Employees will always report into the right cost centres with correct procedures in place
  • + Best Practice in HR

    Back office improvements in productivity and efficiency can be realised by using ESR best practice processes. Underpinning ESR best practice is the timely population of high quality and validated data at the point of entry. This enables accurate management information to be available across NHS organisations to support business planning and decision making. Fundamental to this principle is the embedding of Self Service for managers and employers, ensuring information is entered in as efficient manner as possible and helping reduce paper based process within organisations.

    Furthermore, in light of the publication of the Carter Recommendations (2016), organisations will be required to focus on all aspects of the use of data in their daily management of staff. It is our belief that ESR can support information provision to give timely information in key areas, allow analysis and identify trends, and deliver training and identify gaps in workforce training needs. It is crucial therefore that ESR functionality is utilised and that accurate data is entered into ESR using the recommended HR Best Practice.

    HR best practice use of ESR can be found in the document ESR-NHS0078 - HR Best Practice Guide, located on Kbase. The guide details the best practice approach to managing the recruitment and HR processes using the ESR system, including:

    • Establishment Control
    • Recruitment processes including use of third party e-recruitment systems
    • Inter Authority Transfer (IAT) process and data transfer
    • New starter process
    • Changes to records
    • Internal leaver processes
    • Terminations
    • Re-Hires
    • Business Intelligence reports
    • Data standards
    • Interfaces
  • + Online Payslips and P60's

    With the introduction of the ESR portal and the payslip portal, the process for your workforce to access their payslips and P60's online has never been easier.

    The implementation of online only payslips and P60's will reduce the resources spent on organising and distributing, whilst at the same time reduce the associated data security risks of paper payslips being lost or sent to the wrong person or address.

    Benefits include:

    • Easy access to current and previous payslips via the internet and on mobile device
    • Easy access to current and previous P60's via the internet and on mobile device
    • Ability for the employee to download payslips as PDF documents
    • Increase usage of the ESR portal
    • Reduced the risk of misplaced or lost payslips and P60's
    • Ability to access their payslips and P60's from work or home
    • Ability to view payslip is advance of pay day
    • Reduction in waste associated with uncollected payslips and P60's


  • + Recruitment Administration and eRecruitment Interface

    ESR enables a streamlined recruitment process – from the identification of the initial vacancy through to the selection of suitable applicants to an offer being made to the successful candidate. The data that is captured during this process creates and builds the Employee Record.

    The recruitment module integrates with the online NHS Jobs service already in use in 95% of NHS organisations, and with other e-Recruitment systems. Vacancies can be transferred from ESR to the e-Recruitment system, where applicants can be short-listed and their details then transferred back to ESR, thereby removing the need for the duplication of data entry including matches to existing staff/internal applications. The module also integrates with Deanery systems via the Junior Doctor Interface to facilitate the junior doctors in training rotation programmes, thus ensuring a more streamlined approach to recruitment and quicker timescales from start-date to practice.

    To support the employment checking process the Standard Reference Request feature in ESR enables the IAT initiator to opt for the inclusion of a reference request as a part of the Inter Authority Transfer (IAT) process.

  • + Inter Authority Transfer (IAT)

    Inter Authority Transfer (IAT) is a unique and automated ESR process that removes the manual procedures associated with NHS Staff Transfer Forms and reduces the data entry needed following the appointment of staff from other NHS organisations.  It is also a fundamental enabler for the National Streamlining Programme, including Doctors in Training (DiT) and the Mandatory and Statutory Training Project (MaST).

    Running the IAT at the pre-hire recruitment stage should form part of your standard recruitment process for both general and medical recruitment. As part of this process a specific set of data is provided as followed:

    • Recruitment Team will receive vital information required for the production and issue of contracts, which would otherwise be required from the employee directly. A factual reference can also be requested at this stage.
    • Learning & Development will receive current training competences, enabling only the required training to be completed prior to or on induction.
    • The Occupation Health Team will receive the applicants Vaccinations and Immunisations record prior to starting, removing the need to repeat checks unnecessarily. They can also directly inform the Recruitment Team through the system, once OH checks have been completed and clearance given.
  • + Absence Management

    ESR allows staff absence to be recorded, monitored and managed with the associated payments and entitlements being processed automatically.

    Recording, monitoring and managing the times when your staff are away from work – including sickness, annual leave, special leave and maternity leave within ESR via Self Service or through the core solution means every aspect of calculation of entitlements and payment to employees is processed automatically, whilst minimising the amount of data entry needed.  This is supported by a wide range of reports accessible via Business Intelligence (BI) or via the absence portlet in the Managers Dashboard in Self Service, which enables local monitoring of absence by individual, staff group, organisational hierarchy.

  • + AfC Pay Progression & Apprasials

    The appraisal functionality available through Employee and Manager Self Service enables an organisation to manage the pay progression and end to end appraisal process online for all their staff.  This includes the ability to access a standard appraisal template or allows the organisation to create a bespoke template using HTML coding. The process includes the reviewing of competencies, objectives setting and enables the electronic transfer of the appraisal between the employee and manager.

    Pay Progression

    The 2018 framework agreement on the reform of Agenda for Change introduced provisions to move to a new pay system with faster progression to the top of pay bands through fewer pay step points. In response to these new provisions ESR functionality was enhanced to enable managers to undertake pay progression successfully utilising Manager/Supervisor Self Service or via a central function using core form functionality.

    For further information download: ESR Supporting AfC Pay Progression

    Performance Management Plans

    Performance Management Plan functionality works with the appraisal functionality and can be used to ensure that organisational objectives are successfully met, tracking them through the entire workforce hierarchy. The Performance Management Plan Admin URP is used to setup and roll out performance management plans to the entire workforce via Self Service, incorporating objective setting as well as appraisal tasks.
    The Line of Sight feature is a hierarchical representation of the alignment of objectives in an organisation. This feature displays objectives that are aligned or linked to each other in the objectives hierarchy. Line of Sight helps managers and employees to understand how their objectives have been cascaded down through the organisation and the association between objectives.

    The functionality also provides an electronic auditable process for the appraiser to withhold increment progression.

  • + eExpenses

    The NHS ESR Programme offers NHS organisations access to electronic expenses at no additional usage cost to its users, enabling online creation of travel and subsistence claims via ESR, which can then be transferred to payroll for processing.  This provides efficiency savings by removing time consuming processes for NHS Payroll teams, and removes manual processes for employees inputting paper forms.

    Efficiency and improvements to data quality benefits include:

    • Expenses are processed much quicker
    • Automation of time consuming back office processes
    • Real time status of employee claim status
    • The use of the bi-directional data flow to ESR saves time and ensures accuracy
    • Removes the manual process of inputting submission forms which removes the occurrence of manual errors
    • Removes duplication of claim submissions
    • Provides a comprehensive audit trail which supports NHS Corporate Accountability and also helps prevent fraudulent claims
    • Automated workflow notifications enable rapid claim status updates
    • Reporting functionality allows for better management and control of staff expenses and can identify claim patterns
    • Ensures compliance with NHS specific criteria including vehicle registration and NHS specific expense categories
    • Provides post code recognition for calculation of mileage
    • Allows receipt images/details to be recorded
    • Web based solution means access from any device at any time
    • Ensures expenses policy is adhered to, reducing the time spent checking each claim
  • + Employee and Manager Self Service

    Self Service offers organisations a valuable employee engagement tool, in which employees have the capability to interact with their NHS employment records including updating their personal data, viewing pay and benefit (Total Reward Statements) information, and managing their performance, learning and development. It is widely recognised that if staff feel valued and supported in the workplace by their line managers and the organisation as a whole, this further encourages them to deliver a high level of patient care that supports the values of your organisation.  

    Self Service provides organisations with the opportunity to reduce costs on administrative based tasks and supports local strategies around compliance, engagement, and wider productivity and efficiency plans. Self Service also supports paperless office strategies – both reducing associated costs and supporting environmental policies.

    Information held within ESR is presented to its users in an easy to read, pre-analysed format, in the form of portlets within the portal or as dashboard reports using Business Intelligence (BI). Such data is available at multiple levels across an organisation, including workforce strategic leaders having access to a ‘Management Dashboard – showing graphical data of key performance indicators in near real-time, on desktops or mobile devices.

    Organisations have the ability to set Automatic Internet Access for all their workforce, thereby allowing all their ESR users to automatically access their ESR portal remotely, enhancing the usability of ESR and promoting 24/7 access.

  • + Business Intelligence (BI) - Dashboards and Reports

    ESR Business Intelligence (ESR BI) transforms your ESR data into visually relevant and appealing dashboards, accessible on desktops or mobile devices.  It contains a full suite of standard reports across the full range of functionality that ESR provides; enabling processes to be monitored and provides an opportunity to empower management with valuable workforce intelligence in a variety of forms to suit the user. It offers detailed business insight for managers to monitor their teams while directors, and senior managers and leadership teams get an effective overview of the entire organisation, allowing them to plan for future business development.

    ESR BI can also be used to produce integrated reports with specific data from other systems, and bespoke reports can be uploaded to the ESR Portal, to ensure that the target audience has quick access to information. Benchmarking and alerting are also key parts of ESR BI enabling the ability to target users and encourage prompt action where required.

    Benefits include:
    • A suite of standard dashboards easily accessible thus reducing the reliance on centralised reporting
    • Interactive dashboards allowing users to delve deeper behind the graphs to see the data that sits behind them, thus saving time from producing data in more than one level
    • Easy to use standard dashboards resulting in less time spent educating users
    • Greater understanding of data and workforce requirements at source
    • Improved timeliness of reports resulting in less time spent waiting for reports to complete
    • Reports can be exported into many different formats including PDF & Excel
    • Improved data quality and accuracy
    • Ownership of data at source
  • + Oracle Learning Management (OLM) and Competencies

    The Oracle Learning Management (OLM) functionality in ESR provides comprehensive control of all the activities associated with the learning and development of your NHS staff. This includes the administration of available learning e.g. classroom based and e-Learning courses, and the recording and monitoring of learning achieved or in progress for individuals. It includes a full suite of dashboards and reports using ESR Business Intelligence (BI).

    Utilising OLM together with the competences functionality; Career Management, affords you with the ability to link learning to national competence frameworks or locally set competencies, together with the facility to apply the requirement for these competences to your employees based on the needs of their role, thus providing you with an invaluable workforce learning compliance tool.  Compliance information is generated and available to your employees and managers through the portal, and at organisational level through the Business Intelligence (BI) tool. The use of national mandatory competencies in ESR can help to facilitate a reduction in training and the duplication of training, that staff are required to complete when moving from one NHS organisation to another. This information is transferred using the Inter Authority Transfer (IAT) process, which aids the streamlined transfer of staff information across the NHS. 

    The use of Competency Requirements at your organisation would enable Learning & Development, Recruitment and an applicant accessing via Employee Self Service, to instantly know what training has been completed and when it expires, and importantly what training is outstanding.

    Benefits include:

    • E-Learning can be completed anywhere and at any time through the ESR Self Service functionality
    • OLM supports a blended approach to learning with organisations able to offer in one place, e-Learning and classroom based learning
    • Over 800 freely nationally approved, quality assured and centrally maintained e-Learning content as well as access to locally procured or created e-Learning available to play on PCs and mobile devices
    • Associate competencies with learning to automatically enrol employees onto learning and update their employee records on successful completion
    • Automatic notifications and emails to remind staff and managers when learning needs to be renewed
    • Certifications enable staff to view the status of their compliance based learning and see if and when it needs to be renewed
    • National competence frameworks including the Core Skills Training Framework (CSTF), Care Certificate Framework (CCF) and an agreed set of Statutory and Mandatory competence labels (MAND) to support monitoring of compliance levels against statutory and mandatory training
    • Reduction in staff undertaking unnecessary duplicate learning when transferred using the Inter Authority Transfer (IAT) process
    • Reports enable the demonstration of achievement and compliance for all staff within the organisation
    • Creation of tests to assess learner understanding, and to provide valuable feedback on whether business goals and workforce objectives are being served
  • + Occupational Health

    The Occupational Health module records immunisations, checks and health clearance for applicants and employees. The immunisations and checks can then transfer from one NHS organisation to another via the pre-employment Inter Authority Transfer (IAT) process. This portable data negates the need for NHS organisations to carry out duplicate checks or inoculations for employees transferring within the NHS.

    As many organisations use third party Occupational Health (OH) systems to manage OH processes - with functionality beyond the scope of ESR's OH capability, there is an interface that enables ESR and OH systems to share employee and OH information, which enables the flow of pre-employment OH data.

For detailed functional information, case studies and implementation guides please click on the 'Resources' icon located at the bottom of the page under 'Latest Resources'.

To access key information and resources to support Operational Alignment click on the icons below

Business Challenges

The following key questions will assist you in identifying what financial controls you have in place which can be supported through the utilisation of ESR functionality:

  1. Do you know the number and breakdown of vacancies across your organisation?

  2. Do your Finance team utilise ESR reporting to reconcile to your finance systems?

  3. Are you able to record accurately on establishment control (actual v budgeted + forecast)?

  4. Do you have available a full overview of where you are spending or utilising your resources?

  5. Are you making the right resource allocations to support the long term goals?

  6. Are you able to benchmark & forecast effectively with your workforce information?

  7. Is ESR embedded within your financial strategy to enable cost improvements?

  8. Are you able to empower your managers to take more ownership of their budget?

  9. Are you aware of sickness rates within your organisation including costs by staff type and the resulting cost of temporary staff to backfill absences?

  10. Are you able to manage internal and external training costs, and is this budget effectively utilised?

  11. Are you aware of the savings your organisation could realise by using e-Learning in ESR rather than creating or procuring other e-learning solutions?

Latest Resources

To discuss the functionality available in ESR, to undertake an ESR Assessment on your current and potential usage, or for further information, advice and support please contact your local NHS ESR Functional Account Manager.