Cardinal Employee Self-Service (ESS)
Cardinal HCM (Human Capital Management) is the statewide HR system that state employees at centralized agencies use for payroll, time and attendance, and benefits updates. It is operated by the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) and named after the Virginia state bird. Cardinal ESS is the Employee Self Service module of Cardinal that state employees can use.
Learn about Cardinal ESS:
(Ready to register? Scroll down to the registration section below.)
Cardinal ESS is the Commonwealth’s replacement for EmployeeDirect. Just like with EmployeeDirect, VCU employees will use Cardinal Employee Self Service (ESS) only for state employee health benefits and flexible spending elections and confirmations.
Salaried employees in state positions at VCU (faculty members, University & Academic Professionals, classified staff, and Postdoctoral Scholar employees) use Cardinal ESS for online enrollments in, and changes to, state health benefits and flexible spending. VCU employees do not use Cardinal ESS for any other purpose. No other benefits available through VCU are reflected in Cardinal.
Cardinal is a statewide system that shows health benefits premiums and flexible spending contributions in monthly amounts referred to as Cardinal "pay periods." Half of the monthly amount shown in Cardinal is applied to each semi-monthly VCU paycheck.
VCU is a decentralized state agency and we operate our own payroll (Banner) and timekeeping (RealTime) systems. VCU employees will not use those parts of Cardinal ESS.
You can use Cardinal to enroll in state employee health benefits and flexible spending as a newly eligible employee, to make annual open enrollment elections, and to initiate qualifying mid-year event elections due to marriage, birth or adoption, or divorce. Employees have been requesting a newer and better online system for state health benefits and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) for several years and it’s here!
For some qualifying mid-year events, you won’t be able to initiate elections in Cardinal ESS. For details, see Changing Your Benefits on the VCU HR website.
VCU uploads data to Cardinal from your HR record in VCU’s Banner HR system. The only way to correct information that appears in Cardinal is to correct it in the VCU system. You are not able to make changes to your personal data directly in Cardinal ESS. To make changes to your personal data in the VCU system, update your data in VCU eServices Self Service, complete an updated Personal Data Form, or work with your department’s designated HR professional. You can update personal data in Cardinal ESS for family members covered on your state health plan.
Cardinal is the fastest and easiest way to manage your health benefits and flexible spending enrollment online. When you use Cardinal, you are entering your elections right into the state health plan’s system. You can still submit a state enrollment form to VCU HR if you prefer to have your elections entered for you. For some elections, Cardinal may restrict you from making a change online (for example, if it needs more information about your job change or other coverage) and you will need to use a form.
The best way to get quick service from VCU HR is to enter an HR Support Request ticket from go.vcu.edu/hrsupport. The HR service and support system routes your request to the appropriate section of HR depending upon the nature of your concern. Learn more here: hr.vcu.edu/current-employees/service-and-support-tool.
Register for Cardinal ESS
Faculty members, University & Academic Professionals, and classified staff may use the online Cardinal state system to manage their health coverage and flexible spending account elections and to print health coverage confirmations.
You’ll need two things to register:
- Your vcu.edu email address. Every university employee has one, including employees who use vcuhealth.org email addresses in their daily work. If you are a university employee who uses a vcuhealth.org email address, see the special tips for vcuhealth.org email users at the end of these instructions.
- Your 11-digit Cardinal ID number. Don’t know your Cardinal ID? Log into your VCU portal at my.vcu.edu to find it. See “Locating your Cardinal ID number” below.
- Go to my.cardinal.virginia.gov.
- Choose the “User Registration” link near the bottom of the page.
- Choose “Active State Employee” as your user type. Employees who are at work, on short-term disability, on an approved leave of absence, or in long-term disability working status fall into the “Active State Employee” category for Cardinal.
- Enter your 11-digit Cardinal ID number (see item 2 under “You’ll need two things” above).
- Confirm your vcu.edu email address and other information on the next screen.
- If you are a university employee using a vcuhealth.org email address, you will need to use your vcu.edu email address for Cardinal ESS. If you don’t know your vcu.edu email address, you can find it in eServices Self Service in your personal profile. VCU Technology Services automatically forwards mail received by your vcu.edu email address to your vcuhealth.org email address, so you won’t miss any email that the Cardinal system sends to you.
- Look for the confirmation email from Cardinal in your work email. It will come from "email@example.com" and can take as long as fifteen minutes to arrive. If you use a vcuhealth.org email address, it should automatically be forwarded there from your vcu.edu email box. When you get it, be sure to click the activation link in the email to finish your registration process by setting up your password and authentication method. Your registration is not complete until this is done.
- For more detailed help, including screen captures and step-by-step instructions, see "Registering Your Account - All Other Users" starting on page 13 of the Cardinal Security and Access Job Aid.
- Return to my.cardinal.virginia.gov to log in with your username and password.
- Once you’re logged in, click on Human Capital Management (HCM) and then check out the “Benefits” tile to learn about the benefits information you can review and the benefits actions you can take in Cardinal. Also check out these helpful videos:
Locate your Cardinal ID in your myVCU profile at my.vcu.edu. After logging in, click on the arrow highlighted in the graphic below to display your “State/Cardinal ID” from within your employee profile.
If you have trouble logging into myVCU, you may request your Cardinal ID by entering an HR Support Request ticket at go.vcu.edu/hrsupport.
Each university employee has an official VCU eID and an [eID]@vcu.edu email address alias. School of Medicine employees use vcuhealth.org email accounts. Since VCU is your state employer, Cardinal will only recognize your eID@vcu.edu email alias. Here’s what to do for Cardinal registration:
- Use your vcu.edu email address. The address is based on your eID and is [eid]@vcu.edu. Don’t know your eID? Use the eID finder at eid.vcu.edu/identity/self-service/vcu/forgotuserid.jsf.
Rest assured that emails sent to your vcu.edu email alias are automatically forwarded to your vcuhealth.org email address by VCU Technology Services, so you shouldn’t miss anything. Emails from Cardinal originally sent to your vcu.edu email address alias are delivered directly to your vcuhealth.org inbox.
- Get help from VCU HR by entering an HR support request at go.vcu.edu/hrsupport. Although VCU doesn’t operate the Cardinal system, we can help identify what might be causing the trouble and help you resolve it.
- Reference "Registering Your Account - All Other Users" beginning on page 13 of the Cardinal Security and Access Job Aid.
- Have you changed your vcu.edu work email address since you first registered for Cardinal? If so, you’ll need to register again with your new vcu.edu email address.