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As the tide continues to turn and the economy steadily (if sluggishly) rebounds from a historically trying recession, the outlook for most companies shifts toward efforts that will ensure their ability to take advantage of a more fruitful marketplace. One of the most important avenues to pursue involves training and an overall initiative of investing in employees. While the potential array of investment strategies varies based on industry and other factors specific to certain enterprises, 2014 is a time in which investing in the development of employees serves as an invaluable tool for prosperity going forward. Three of the most important factors employee training investment can affect are business efficiency, retention of employees and overall cost-effectiveness.

One of the most indelible lessons learned over the past six years of economic unrest is the value of operating an efficient organization. When lean economic times arise, doing more with less becomes the life blood of any business hoping to weather the storm. Keys to efficiency include nurturing a staff that is able to endure expanded respective roles. Employees who are trained to assume a broader scope of duties are better equipped to maintain and even increase productivity when resources are stretched thinnest.

In some industries, an efficient operating environment not only allows for fewer people to accomplish greater measures of productivity, those resources spared by a group of rock-star employees frees capital for necessary investments in infrastructure, product inventory and other ventures that might otherwise fall outside of a suddenly constrained budget.

In times of economic downturn, the pool of available talent rises, causalities of contracted firms across the country and around the world. Instead of considering this swelling of reachable talent in terms that would devalue on-board staff, treating employees as valued assets will go a long way toward maintaining moral and abating turnover.

Addressing recruitment and new-hire training is an even more costly expense than the costs associated with furthering the development of the staff you already have in-house.

As in most areas of the corporate environment, costs across the board are reduced when the economy is slowest. A company looking to take advantage of this factor – versus lamenting their shrinking margins and sedated revenue streams – should initiate a training curriculum that will inherently cost less. A training program that would demand a premium cost in a thriving economy can be had at a bargain rate in a slower economy.

Take advantage of the reduced costs of training materials, outsourced training staff, travel expenses and other ingredients crucial to an effective training regimen.

Spending more may appear counter-intuitive given the depths from which business has climbed recently, but investing in employees in 2014 is an expense that any forward-thinking company cannot afford to refuse.