No matter how innovative today's organization is, there are still many obstacles to achieving the goals of a healthy business. Mounting risks, fast-paced and increasing complex environments, vicious competition for hiring and retaining qualified employees are major road blocks to achieving bottom-line business goals.

The smart organizations seek new ways and new tools for managing risks and controlling the cost of workforce productivity. So how do you stay on top of fast-moving legislation and reform that put your company and your employees at risk? Where can you find out about Workers' Comp reform in California? How about the latest liability issues involved in doing business on the Internet? Who can outline the key issues surrounding absence management in today's workplace?

The new Center for Professional Excellence attempts to help answer these questions.

Seeking to partner with companies to help them achieve desired business results, Aon in Southern California, an insurance broker, risk management and human resources consultant, developed the unique, value-added program. Sam Cargill, Aon's Director of Business Development, said that "education plays a big part in relationships with clients and prospects. The speed of today's business dealings has increased the demand for corporate knowledge. We view our commitment to customers as going beyond the traditional services offered by brokers or consultants. It's important we present subjects that our clients tell us are critical to their business operations."

The Center for Professional Excellence strives to take education to the next level, according to Tim Thalman, Director of Marketing and Public Affairs for Aon Southern California. "We decided to start with two distinctly different learning experiences small, focused classes and larger seminars for a wider audience." The curriculum includes specific business topics that explore the rapidly changing world of risk finance, insurance and human resources, as well as topics intended to enhance employee life.

The curriculum for the current year offers a wide variety of topics ranging from Internet liability to risk management fundamentals for non-risk managers. Some topics also acknowledge employees' need for work/life balance. For example, the most recent event, held at the Los Angeles County Public Library, was Dr. Hal Urban's presentation on his book "Life's Greatest Lessons." His plea for old-fashioned respect, trust, hard work and kindness was presented to an audience of 175 clients, Aon employees and others. Each attendee received a copy of the book.

"If you want employees with better skills and greater commitment to your organization, The Center for Professional Excellence is certainly a strong tool," according to John Evans, Senior Vice President of Aon's employee benefits division in Southern California. "Our employee loyalty studies clearly indicate that specific training aimed at improving work skills and an employer's recognition of employees' needs for a work/life, is among the top reasons qualified people remain committed to an organization."

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