Programme news

New Self-Service Standards and Levels of Attainment launched

The procurement for the future NHS Workforce Solution is now well underway, and as you will hopefully know from previous updates, the procurement is part of the ESR Transformation programme that aims to deliver and enable wider workforce transformation as part of the national People Digital Collaborative across NHS England, and NHS Wales.

The use of Self-Service functionality within the ESR solution supports a wide range of process and efficiency improvements in relation to workforce management, workforce data and employee experience.

Self-Service capability remains integral to the requirements of the future NHS Workforce Solution. With this in mind, the NHSBSA ESR Team has developed, in collaboration with NHS England and NHS Wales, a set of new Self-Service Standards and Levels of Attainment. The Standards themselves act as a guide to local process and cultural change for both managers and employees, and the Levels of Attainment provide the building blocks to full Self-Service optimisation - helping Chief People Officers and their teams achieve greater digital capability and competence and improved workforce data quality.

The Standards and Levels of Attainment have been embedded into a new Self-Service Assessment.  The Assessment examines what digital systems, processes and cultures exist within organisations today, and will help Chief People Officers and ESR Leads to develop local plans that will deliver a rich digital experience for managers and employees, now and in the future.

Practically, the Assessment will help Chief People Officers and ESR Leads to understand how ESR is being used today, how many workforce systems employees are interacting with and highlight how organisations can improve their digital experience to realise the many benefits that ESR can deliver for the NHS today, whilst preparing organisations for the transition to the future NHS Workforce solution.

The Assessment is carried out by the NHSBSA ESR Functional Account Manager along with key stakeholders from NHS organisations. After completion, a comprehensive report summarises the current position against each Standard and its supporting Levels of Attainment. The objective is two-fold – firstly, to help organisations understand opportunities for optimising their use of ESR now, and secondly, begin to prepare for the future NHS Workforce Solution, including development of an ESR optimisation plan.

Our regional teams of ESR Functional Account Managers and ESR Implementation Advisors are working with organisations, providing expert guidance and support that will help Chief People Officers and their teams to better understand ESR as the national workforce solution and help them achieve the level of ESR usage, and wider digitisation, that best works for their people and their organisation.

The Regional Teams are already busy with many Assessments booked across all regions in England, and colleagues in NHS Wales have also committed to undertake their Assessment during this summer.

Lynne Shelton (MCIPD), Assistant Director of Pay & Systems, University Hospitals of Derby & Burton NHS Foundation Trust & Interim Project Lead for Project Derbyshire said:

Being a pilot site for the new ESR standards and level of attainment assessment has been very beneficial.  It is supporting the current digital people work across Trusts in Derby & Derbyshire ICS to align and optimise the full functionality of ESR.  The new assessments, which are clear, concise and relevant, have helped in identifying inconsistencies in ESR use and approach, and the key areas we need to focus on for improvement and development.  This will help us to achieve alignment across the ICS and be prepared for the new workforce solution.  

Donna Watson, Head of Workforce Engagement & Information Systems at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust said:

The pilot was great to be involved in, very useful to understand the new ESR standards with the ESR Team supporting us throughout the journey. The assessment has helped  how we prioritise our optimisation of ESR to inform our state of readiness for the future NHS Workforce Solution.

If your organisation has not yet booked the Self-Service Standards Assessment don’t be concerned - our ESR Functional Account Manager teams will be contacting NHS organisations to discuss the process and get the Assessment booked.

ESR Developments

ESR continues to be developed to improve user experience and meet the priorities of the NHS.

ESR continues to be developed to improve user experience, meet the priorities and policy needs of the NHS and ensure the system remains legislatively compliant. This has led to another year of significant change. Whilst our focus now moves to delivering further developments planned for the next 12 months, it is important that we also take time to monitor and review the changes already deployed to ensure that they deliver the benefits to the NHS that we previously identified.

Having looked back at some of the key changes recently delivered, we have analysed the data and listened to user feedback to provide a summary of the benefits delivered.

Verification of My Personal and Equality and Diversity Information

To help improve employee data quality, a development to ESR was deployed in September 2022 to prompt employees to view and, if required, update their personal and equality and diversity information.

To facilitate this a status indicator was added to the Personal Details and the Equality and Diversity Portlets within Self-Service.My Personal Info

The indicator changes colour, dependent on the length of time since the information was last updated or verified.

Green     Up to 9 months after the latest update or verification

Amber    Between 9 and 12 months after the latest update or verification

Red        12 or more after the latest update or verification

In addition, an employee notification is triggered where the employee has not updated or verified their personal or equality and diversity information within the last 12 months (365 days).

Reporting of the verification dates can be found in ESRBI within the Summary and Detail pages of the NHS Employment Checklist Dashboard.  Further information is available within the ESRBI Online Dashboard Guide.


In the first six months following deployment (October 2022 – March 2023) - over 700,000 updates or verifications were made in relation to personal details. Additionally, around 350,000 were made in relation to Equality & Diversity information.

Consequently, this has contributed towards a significant improvement in the overall completion rates of My Personal and Equality & Diversity data at a national level.

In this period:

  • 7,600 additional employees recorded a disability in ESR.
  • The number of ‘Null/Blank’ disability records reduced by 10,500.
  • The number of ‘I Do not wish to disclose’ entries have decreased for both Religious Belief and Sexual Orientation.

Helen Pope, Workforce Intelligence Manager at Sussex Community NHS Trust highlighted the benefits this can bring to organisations;

The portlets currently available for Equality & Diversity and Personal Details are great as they already simplify processes for users, especially those who are not so IT confident. The development to encourage users to check these on an annual basis will be brilliant as since moving to online payslips staff do not think about updating home addresses so much and contacts often get forgotten. It will also make the run-up for National Staff Survey and WRES / WDES submissions much less hectic for the workforce team as the update reminders will be spread across the year – I can’t wait to promote the development via our Staff Networks and Trust newsletters.

Further details of this enhancement can be found in Guide to Enhancements and Changes Release 55.0 & 55.1

Prevent Deletion of Protected Characteristics in Self Service

In January 2023, the ability for self-service users to update any of the following fields to replace a previously saved value with a blank entry has been removed.

  • Ethnic Origin
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religious Belief
  • Marital Status

ESR Developments - Equality & Diversity


The change helped to further improve Protected Characteristic data quality and declaration rates which provides organisations with information to demonstrate compliance with equality legislation and to comply with NHS data standards. The change also addressed a specific scenario whereby employees could remove data that had been previously collected and recorded by the organisation - they will now be presented with the full list of values to choose from, including ‘I do not wish to disclose’ if that is their wish.

Null/Blank records have significantly reduced over the last few years with only c.7% of employees having blank records for Religious Belief and Sexual Orientation compared with over 15% in 2015.

If users would like to further investigate their organisation’s data quality, including protected characteristics, the NHS Data Quality Dashboard within ESRBI can be used to highlight specific areas.  Further information is available within the ESRBI Online Dashboard Guide.

Joanne Penfold, HR ESR Support & Development Manager and eJob Planning Lead at East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust highlighted the benefits this can bring to organisations;

The E&D portlet has made it much easier for employees to view and update this information. I was even more pleased (yes loud cheer) when ESR fields were protected in ESS so that employees cannot delete the values.

Further details of this enhancement can be found in Guide to Enhancements and Changes Release 56.2

Recording My Wellbeing Information

A change was delivered in December 2022 to enable employees to easily self-record their wellbeing information without the need for manager approval through the existing My Personal Information portlet. This change further supports organisations to support the health and wellbeing of their staff.

An additional tab named ‘My Wellbeing Information’ was added to the My Personal Information Portlet.

Several wellbeing roles were made visible and updateable by selecting either ‘Yes or No’ radio buttons, enabling employees to manage their own wellbeing information efficiently.

ESR Developments - My Personal Info


Since simplifying the way in which individuals record this information, there has been a significant increase of declarations with 95% of the new records added through Employee Self Service using the new My Wellbeing Information form.

Furthermore, the ability to manage wellbeing information through the Personal Information portlet has created further efficiencies via a reduction in process steps. It has also provided efficiencies by removing the reliance on managers and central HR teams to capture and update this information on behalf of employees.

Prior to the development there were only 1,000 active employees with Armed Forces related roles – this number has quadrupled in the months since the release.

The biggest increase for Armed Forces Related roles has been for Armed Forces Veterans, where over 1500 employees have recorded this information since 1st January. Prior to the development just 342 employees had identified as a veteran in all of the time the value has been available in ESR.

In the previous year only 90 employees had been recorded as a working carer, whereas since the introduction of the new supplementary role some 4,500 employees have declared that they are a ‘Working Carer’.

Joanne Penfold, HR ESR Support & Development Manager and eJob Planning Lead at East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust highlighted the benefits this can bring to organisations;

The Staff Engagement team are very pleased with the introduction of the My Wellbeing Information part of the Personal Details portlet. It has been made much easier for employees to add and maintain and will hopefully increase the uptake of employees indicating they have external responsibilities.

Further details of this enhancement can be found in  Guide to Enhancements and Changes Release 56.0 & 56.1

OLM Joining Instructions Emails Changed to a Meeting Request

In January 2023, the OLM Joining Instructions, which was previously sent as an email for a class enrolment, was changed to be sent as a meeting request.

The time for the meeting is populated using the Start Date, Time and End Date and Time of the Class. In addition, meeting requests have a default reminder of 1 day before the class, unless this is overridden using the ‘Remind Before Class Start Date’ field on the offering or class.

Any changes to class time, date or venue are also now sent as a meeting update. Class cancellation or Class withdrawal are sent as a meeting cancellation for the original meeting request.

All the changes to the class are now managed directly from a single calendar event rather than from several different emails.

Additionally, the custom text that could be added to the joining instructions by organisations was also increased and the fields that held the text were HTML enabled.

  • The text that could be added at offering level was increased from 450 to 2000 characters.
  • A new field that could also hold 2000 characters was added to the class form.

All of this is included in the body of the meeting request and can be automatically saved to the delegate’s calendar. 

ESR Developments - Learning meeting request


As the information is now all in one place, prompting learners with reminders to attend training, organisations are seeing a reduction in ‘Did Not Attend’ (DNA) rates for classes. Reducing the DNA rate ensures that education is delivered more efficiently as learners will be attending the first class they are booked onto, reducing rebooking’s and empty spaces on full classes, providing a cost saving for the organisations and increasing compliance.

Learners attending training via Teams can now directly launch the class from their Outlook calendar.

Since introducing the meeting requests, attendance has increased with the number of DNA’s falling from over 9% to 7%.

Angelo Cascarini, Internal Training Manager at Isle of Wight NHS Trust highlighted the benefits this can bring to organisations:

The new learning notifications are going to be really helpful going forward! I had no idea the reminder notifications were coming, and I bet that will have a really positive impact on DNA’s.

Further details of this enhancement can be found in Guide to Enhancements and Changes Release 56.2

Further Information

We continue to be grateful for the invaluable contribution and support we have received from our users and stakeholders. Such contribution ensures the accurate identification, gathering and definition of requirements; meaning our pipeline of change continues to reflect both user and policy needs.

If you have any queries, then please contact your  NHSBSA ESR Functional Account Manager.

Why use the ESR Exit Questionnaire?

The NHS ESR Exit Questionnaire functionality invites leavers and employees with terminating assignments to complete a survey on their experience of their employing Organisation and is available to be implemented at both Trust-wide and assignment level.

In 2021, with input from NHS England and NHS Wales, the functionality was updated with a revised set of questions. The new questions reflected the NHS Staff Survey and National Quarterly Pulse Survey and enabled employees to self-declare their reason for leaving as well as introducing a free text field to add any further comments. In addition, ESRBI was updated to reflect these new questions, whilst maintaining previous questions to allow for historical reporting.

In collaboration with NHS England, the NHSBSA ESR Service Team has developed a new page within ESRBI NHS Staff Movements Monitoring Dashboard to support local retention strategies. The new page contains several new summary and detail reports for the Exit Questionnaire available to users of ESRBI. The analyses have been designed to provide greater strategic reporting over Exit Questionnaire data - including analysis of the number and percentage of completions and the responses provided over time.

NHS Exit Questionnaire Completions Analysis

EQ Completions

A number of the new reports use a score-based approach where a value has been applied to responses received.

EQ Score Table

  • Only NHS Exit Questionnaire Score Summary attributes a value of 0 to ‘no response received’.

NHS Exit Questionnaire Score Summary

EQ Avg Score

EQ Avg Score Table

By assigning a numerical value to the response, it enables organisations to rank overall scores grouped by a range of workforce items such as Staff Groups, Organisation Levels etc. Users can also review the average score by question to analyse changing responses and identify any emerging trends.

NHS Exit Questionnaire Analysis

EQ Avg Question

EQ Avg Opportunities

The analyses and further information can be found on the Exit Q. Analysis page of the NHS Staff Movements Monitoring Dashboard within ESRBI.

The ESR User Guide provides comprehensive detail on introducing the Exit Questionnaire at Trust level and at Assignment level.

Self Service Standards and Levels of Attainment

The use of the ESR Exit Questionnaire is part of Standard 10 relating to Manager Self-Service in the new Self-Service Standards Assessment that launched in June. You can find out more information about the Standards and Levels of Attainment in this edition of ESR News here - 

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