May 6, 2016
Putting a face to a name: Amanda McDiffett, director of benefits
Meet Amanda McDiffett, director of benefits for Human Capital Services. When K-State employees have questions about benefits, it is often McDiffett or the other four members on the benefits team who are provide a helpful voice on the other end of the line. McDiffett is a Kansas State University graduate with a bachelor's degree in personal financial planning and a true love for helping K-State employees understand and use their benefits fully.
Learn more about McDiffett and how she and her team help K-State employees in the following Q-and-A:
What are some of the big changes you hope to or have implemented since you started in this position and how will this affect K-Staters?
We are really trying to focus on customer service and meeting the needs of K-Staters. A lot of what we do is behind the scenes since we administer all of the university's benefits plans but communicating out changes so employees understand what is happening and why is a very important part of our service.
A big thing is that we've implemented is our Wellness Program, Live Your Best, which is engagement driven. We’ve held many financial wellness workshops, a movement challenge in the fall of 2016, and most recently offered a financial online game for employees. You may also have seen the new benefits offered with the Teachers and Employees Association such as the short-term disability insurance benefit. We are striving to find the benefits that we can offer that will help assist employees.
What are your goals for improving employment at K-State?
Currently we are working to ensure new employees get benefit information in a dynamic way. Benefits can sometimes be confusing and overwhelming, especially to a new employee. Our team has been working on our New Employee Benefit Orientation program so it meets the needs of our new employees. We also are looking for new and better ways to communicate these benefits so that employees understand what is offered and can make the best decision for themselves and their families.
What are you are doing help K-State employees?
Trying to streamline any policy that we can but really ensuring that everyone understands what they are and how to use it. We talk to K-State employees all the time. Our phones are always ringing and our emails are always busy. We have a lot of one-on-one correspondence with employees who usually call with a specific question. A lot of times they will end up getting a lot more knowledge about what their benefit is beyond their original question.
They might say, "I just had a child and I want to add them to my insurance." We will talk about that with them and then we will say, "OK, is your child going to be in daycare, cause you might want to sign up for the dependent care flexible spending account." Many times one question will lead to a bigger broader question or discussion. That's an everyday basis.
What keeps you up at night?
I'm a worrier anyways so a lot keeps me up. There are many changes to how we administer benefits because of Kansas or national legislation. Ensuring we are compliant with any new benefit changes, such as the Affordable Care Act, and meeting the needs of all our clients is certainly a balancing act. I’m very future focused. There is so much I want to do. Balancing all we want to do and what we can accomplish now is always a fun challenge for me.
What is your favorite part about K-State?
As cliché as it may sound, the people. I really enjoy our office because we are really a part of the life cycle of employment at K-State. We meet with new employees at New Employee Orientation and assist quite a bit as new hires come on. It’s great to see how excited people are during their first few weeks as a new employee. We also assist retirees as they approach retirement. It is very rewarding to hear about the time that people have worked here at K-State and how it has shaped their lives as they transition to retirement.
We are very customer focused. People here are so nice, you cannot help but want to assist them. Knowing that you helped someone get the result that they want is very rewarding. There are four of us on our team and I'd say all of our biggest focus is ensuring that our employees are happy and that they are getting the service that they want. We get a lot of pleasure ensuring that we did help them. That's the best part.