Anyone can stand on soapbox and preach wellness to an employer, employee or an average Joe walking down the street, but to actively seek and participate in a healthier well-being along with clients goes above and beyond for any benefit adviser. That is why Senior Wellness Consultant Craig Schmidt is EBA’s 2016 Wellness Adviser of the Year.
Within the past year, Schmidt has been hitting the wellness grindstone hard, building EPIC’s employee benefits specialty consulting practice, developing content for their client-facing webinars, educating staff on wellness productivity planning and writing a whole chapter in EPIC’s wellness playbook tool for internal account teams.
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“Craig has been instrumental in the continued development of EPIC’s core wellness practice,” says John Gaffney, director of national benefits operations at EPIC. “[His] long-term accomplishment has been to bring EPIC’s wellness service from reactive or passive programs offered by employers, to an integrated portion of an employer’s overall benefits package.”
Schmidt began his work in the wellness field as a health coach and wellness coordinator for a wellness provider in Wisconsin called Well Nation.
He worked on Well Nation’s health risk management program for two years before moving to Denver and working with Anthem.
“An opportunity opened up when Anthem picked up Google as part of their contract,” Schmidt says. “I worked with them for about a year helping them integrate their wellness initiatives with tools and resources through Anthem’s medical benefits.”
Schmidt says shortly after his time with Anthem and Google, he joined on to another wellness firm that later was acquired by EPIC, where he has remained for the past three years.
Matt Sears, executive vice president of employee benefits for EPIC, says his relationship with Schmidt started around this time.
“I’m the guy that hired him originally,” Sears says. “Previously, I was responsible for national wellness efforts and I hired Craig with the idea that 1) he would give me some extra support and 2) he would eventually take over that responsibility.”
Sears and Schmidt’s roles have changed since joining EPIC, but Schmidt says being a part of the team he is on now is one of his greatest achievements so far.
“Being a new company, we have had the opportunity to create, from the ground up, our own approach, process and protocol when we administer health wellness and health management to the clients we serve,” Schmidt says.
“That is one of the biggest achievements I have had, to be with this team for the past two years to create and develop the health and wellness practice.”
Schmidt not only brings wellness knowledge to the workplace, he also lives it on a day-to-day basis by participating in several races and even attempting the Olympic trials in 2012.
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“I made a couple attempts at [the Olympic trials] in 2012, but fell short by three minutes,” says Schmidt.
That has not deterred him from staying active. Schmidt says since he moved to California he has fallen in love with the trails and participating in races and marathons regularly.
“I have four 50k’s under my belt and I went out to Spain last May and participated in a 50-miler out on the Canary Islands,” he says.
Schmidt says his biggest challenge currently is working with clients who are only seeking to check wellness off a list of benefits that they can say are provided to their employees. He wants them to understand that wellness can be more valuable than just scoring a quick ROI.
“When you have some companies and groups saying, ‘I want to do wellness. Let’s do a biometric screening, let’s do a walking challenge. Now tell me what I impacted.’ I have to say, ‘Well, you’ve impacted next to nothing,’” Schmidt says.
“But, if you add those companies that are really looking to make policy change, enhancements to the culture, changes to the environment, add some support resources, really adjust and change their benefit package in a way that can empower individuals to work the health system; that’s when you really start seeing the successes.”
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