September 2020

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On-boarding new staff during the COVID-19 Pandemic

During the early days of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the North East and Yorkshire Region were quick to take innovative and responsive actions to support recruitment activity; these included, introducing early access to the Applicant Dashboard and/or creating virtual induction programmes (in an e-Learning format) which were made available via ESR.  

Image of ESR Applicant Dashboard

Case Study: Neil Picton, Head of Workforce Engagement & Information at Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals (NUTH) told us that a collaborative approach between teams internally saw the complete overhaul of their induction and on-boarding processes for new staff.   Julie Raine, Deputy Head of Workforce Development at NUTH said:

Early access to ESR was key in enabling the delivery of a newly developed e-Learning induction model.  In total more than 800 staff were recruited, inducted and available to work within an 8-week period.


Case Study: At the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic Airedale NHSFT Learning and Development Team had to find new ways of delivery for both mandatory training and their welcome induction.  The Trust began using the ESR Applicant Dashboard early into lock down and all new starters have, to date, used it successfully.

Six weeks into lock down they were keen to know how staff felt about their experience of this way of working. Here are some of the views that they received;

Within 3-5 days the majority of their applicants had a status of offer accepted within ESR (they had completed all their required mandatory training).

Case Study: Northumbria Healthcare NHS FT’s Trust induction became reliant on on-boarding using the ESR Applicant Dashboard; with new employees completing their mandatory training prior to their start date. Staff were able to access mandatory training - in some cases 4-6 weeks in advance of their start date.  Lisa O’Keeffe, Learning & Organisational Development Manager said:

We are using the Digital Learning Solutions platform via HEE to store and complete the virtual induction.  We were quick off the mark with our induction so we aren’t having to back track through recruitment and all staff we have employed/and continue to employ during the Pandemic are compliant either on their start date or by day 2 at the latest.  We are now in the process of looking at how we can build in a scenario day to embed the learning going forward.

Case Study: Marc House, Head of CNTW Academy at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS FT, outlined how they are using e-Learning in ESR in place of face to face training during the Pandemic.  The Academy Administrators and Senior Trainers developed an e-Learning Induction over the course of just a few days.  This included an embedded video from their Chairman welcoming staff to the Trust that was uploaded onto the ESR Portal so that staff could access it on their first day in post. Marc told us they recruited in the region of 360 staff in this period using this process.

Case Study: County Durham & Darlington NHS FT developed a virtual induction and have been using this for new starters since March 2020.   Jillian Wilkins, L&OD Coordinator outlined how they cut down the slides from the normal corporate induction with a voice over from the trainers, which was then made available on ESR as an e-Learning course to enable access to this and any other required national e-Learning via the Applicant Dashboard prior to starting work with the Trust.   They have successfully recruited and inducted 450 new employees during Pandemic.

Case Study: Dave Sprawka, Head of Employment at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole worked as part of the team to deliver the Applicant Dashboard in response to the COVID19 crisis;

At Northern Lincolnshire & Goole NHS Foundation Trust we were already in the process of implementing the Applicant Dashboard for all new staff with the helpful support of our ESR Lead, Lauren Wilkinson, when the COVID-19 Pandemic situation arose.  One of our responses to this situation was to recruit additional clinical and non-clinical bank staff, with a focus on new employees being ready to start work at the earliest possible opportunity.   The implementation of the Applicant Dashboard contributed to us achieving this aim.  With social distancing being a concern, and limited opportunities for face to face inductions and training, the use of the dashboard supported our new employees as a part of the recruitment and induction process by providing the opportunity to become familiar with our organisation and undertake essential training ahead of starting in a front line or support post to care for our patients.

During the Pandemic the use of the ESR Applicant Dashboard has been invaluable to Trusts in the region who needed to on-board hundreds of new staff to support the response to the crisis.

Airedale NHSFT Organisational Learning & Improvement Team told us:

We have wondered how we would have coped during the COVID-19 lockdown without the ESR Applicant Dashboard.  As an organisation, we would have found it difficult to ensure so many applicants could complete their mandatory training so safely, and so swiftly. As a team we quickly began to realise its benefit, but we reached out to applicants to hear their thoughts and the positive feedback has been loud and clear.

As we begin to consider how, as a Trust, we recover and reset, the ESR Applicant Dashboard is something we shall continue using – turning our focus to improving our own processes to ensure we maximise its full potential.

Giving applicants early access to their ESR Applicant Dashboard provides organisations with the opportunity to ensure applicants can update their personal information, complete training & streamline on-boarding to meet the objectives of the national Enabling Staff Movement initiative.   To find out more please contact your NHS ESR Functional Account Manager.


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