October 26, 2017

Purdue Profiles: Candace Shaffer

Candace Shaffer Candace Shaffer, director of benefits, Human Resources. (Purdue University photo/Rebecca Wilcox) Download image

Candace Shaffer earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees from Purdue. Now, she's the new director of benefits in Human Resources, responsible for overseeing and planning the realm of benefits for Purdue employees.

Before becoming director, Shaffer served in an interim capacity. Now, she’s looking to broaden the scope of employee benefits with a focus on wellness and health care consumerism.

What are your responsibilities in your current role?

As director of benefits, I’m responsible for the strategic planning and customer service of a strong benefits plan for our employees and their families. Benefits is more than just medical and dental benefits; it also includes retirement, leave, worker compensation, families and the systems and processes in place to help employees engage in those programs.

What should faculty and staff look for in next year’s medical plans?

For 2018, faculty and staff should look at more communication and information being shared about how to be the best consumers of their health care. With the wellness incentives, we are hoping individuals really engage in their own health and then take next steps to either maintain that health or work toward a healthier lifestyle. Health care can be complicated, and it’s our department’s role to help employees and their families understand how to navigate it so they can best utilize our resources for their individual and family needs. 

What are your goals for the benefits area now that you’re the director?

My main goal is to ensure we have quality programs and services to help meet the needs of employees and their families at whatever stage of life they are at, whether they are a single person or a three-generation family. Needs change over a lifetime, so we need to be a resource for employees at the point in time they need support.

How did you become interested in working in human resources?

With my education and previous work experience being early childhood education, my first introduction to benefits from an employer’s perspective was when I came to work at Purdue in 2014 as the worksite health and child care specialist. I was so excited, and frankly impressed, that my alma mater had developed a position within the benefits department that focused on family-friendly initiatives, such as on-site child care options, lactation support and family-friendly practices and guidelines. Once I joined the team and started to learn more about other benefits, I started asking questions and getting more involved in benefit projects. In mid-2016, I was offered the opportunity to serve as interim associate director, which opened up more opportunities for me to learn about benefits as a whole, which I truly enjoy.

What are you most looking forward to about your position?

I am most looking forward to what we can do in the next few years with wellness. I’m excited to see how employees respond and participate in the wellness incentive for 2018 and then what that may do for their personal health and wellness. I also am looking forward to how we can grow the wellness program to not only include medical wellness, but also financial or family wellness. Taking care of our personal health is really only one part of it, but it’s a good start. It will be very rewarding to see where we can go from here to continue to improve and focus on overall employee wellness. In addition, I’m looking forward to partnering and collaborating and with faculty and staff across the university to enhance our benefit programs. We need to utilize the experience and expertise that are present at the university, both within and outside the benefits department.

* Benefits open enrollment runs through 6 p.m. EST Nov. 10.

Writer: Kelsey Schnieders, kschnied@purdue.edu

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