June 2018

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Streamlining Recruitment, Hiring and Assignment Changes using ESR Manager Self Service

A Case Study by Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust



Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is a large community provider – with 5,000 staff. The Trust was formed in 2010 and has been using Employee and Manager Self Service (Payroll Approval Required) since this date – and previously in two of the three founder Trusts.

Employee and Manager Self Service has historically been used for most tasks, including some back-office ‘cost reducing’ assignment changes (Hours Reductions & Terminations for example).  However, there was always a reluctance to relinquish some of the central controls in order to allow Managers to use ESR for operational tasks that would add to the spend on a cost centre.  Following a poor Recruitment audit, we were required to review this approach and as a consequence the decision was made to utilise ESR Manager Self Service (Payroll Approvals required) to ‘Manage Hires’ and make ‘Assignment’ changes.

The process in place during the audit was a fully electronic eForms system – with emailed workflow Workforce Approval forms and New Starter and Changes forms.  However, these were within a standalone third part system that needed separate management and maintenance.

The audit found it difficult to reconcile the electronic forms with the actual recruitment/job change made. It also found a range of delays at different stages of the approval/recruitment process. 

The Project

Understanding the starting point was key - there were three systems involved in the ‘Workforce Hire and Change’ process:-

  • eForms
  • NHS Jobs
  • ESR

Each system had its own login credentials and business rules.

We recognised there was a possibility to extend our use of NHS Jobs and ESR Manager Self Service to cover the tasks of the eForms system; using the ‘approvals’ emails in NHS Jobs for Vacancy Workforce Approval and using ‘Manage Hires’ and ‘Assignment Changes’ in Manager Self Service to hire and change jobs.  An options appraisal confirmed the practicality and advantages of this approach.

Our Managers were quick to see the benefit in using just two systems that they were already familiar with. The ability to now use the previously unused ESR menu items of Assignments and Manage Hires was welcomed with open arms. This was all aided by our early deployment in 2017 of the ESR Portal and the enhanced visual experience this gave to its users.

As well as achieving all Hires and Assignment changes, we were able to devise processes that have eliminated all other HR change forms – so we now use the ‘notes’ in an ‘Assignment’ change to notify Payroll of changes such as ‘Purchased Annual Leave’, ‘On Call enhancements’ etc.

The change over to the new process was initially piloted within Corporate areas, with a phased deployment in the Operating Divisions across the Financial Year 2016-17. Full deployment was complete by April 2017.

Progress in the project was monitored by the Strategic Workforce Committee with regular reports on progress in migrating to the new way of working.

Key Benefits

The advantages in reducing to just two systems, from three, were recognised very early in the deployment. This simple process change, of gaining the Approval in NHS Jobs and allowing ESR ‘Manage Hires’ is actually more significant than it appears.

In the Recruit and Hire process we have:-

  1. reduced the number of systems – from 3 to 2
  2. reduced the number of operations per recruitment episode – from 29 to 15
  3. reduced the interruptions in the procedure flow – from 7 to 4
  4. eliminated 8 ‘double data entry’ items
  5. reduced average approval time by 40 days.

The Assignment Changes process has also been streamlined, cutting the average process time from 40 to 4 days. There are also reductions in the number of distinct operations and interruptions to the process flow.

The Approval workflow in NHS Jobs allows the recruiting manager to pick the most appropriate approvers. For example, we allow Nursing vacancies to be advertised without Director approval – contributing to the reduction in delay.  This flexibility was not possible before.

The use of the ‘Payroll Approval Required’ option in Self Service allows the ESR team (that have the Payroll Notification role) to ‘quality check’ all changes as well as forward Notifications to Finance where their approval is required for an assignment change.

The Manager Self Service Hire process has also given us an enhanced Information Governance benefit.  Employees now enter their own Bank Account details into ESR using Employee Self Service. They no longer have to share these with their manager (who previously entered them on the electronic New Starter form). It is also one less task for the Payroll team.

By consolidating onto just two systems managers have increased their overall use of ESR and have become more confident when using it. Almost certainly this has contributed to our most recent ‘Payroll Audit’ result where we achieved ‘Significant Assurance’ with NO recommendations or suggestions for change.

This manager confidence in using ESR fits with our strategy of making Mangers self-reliant in ESR, making all changes and also reporting team data to support their service operation.

Lessons Learned

The complications of the interdependency between approvers in a service meant that we had to modify our deployment approach slightly to ensure everyone was using the same system.

We also had to modify the deployment as a Manager left and was replaced – these new managers immediately went ‘live’ with the new process – necessitating us to also bring all related managers in that Service on line at the same time.

We have also identified other changes that will further streamline our processes – so there will be yet more benefits and lessons to be learnt.

We have shared our experience with Trusts within the West Midlands at a Regional Special Interest Group and have worked alongside one Trust, walking them through our process. The interest generated is significant – demonstrating that other Trusts have an appetite for the benefits that this use of ESR delivers.

Further Information

If you want more information about our Streamlining Recruitment, Hiring and Assignment Changes using ESR Manager Self Service Project , please contact Chris Heward, Workforce Planning and ESR Senior Business Partner - 0121 466 7462 - chris.heward@bhamcommunity.nhs.uk

We often share our Self Service training materials with neighbouring organisations – and will make those for these procedures freely available to anyone that requests them.

For information about Manager Self Service functionality and best practice please contact your NHS ESR Functional Advisor or Account Manager or access the HR Best Practice Guidance on Kbase.




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