For many organizations, the recent economy has forced them to make many cuts. But it is important that organizations continue to invest in their people and show them that they are a valuable part of the organization. I've heard many organizations have make the statement "Be glad you have a job". And while people certainly SHOULD be glad they have a job, the statement is generally made as a dismissive to a question about something an employee has asked about, be it a cost of living increase or some other benefit. The problem with this statement is that it shows the true nature of the person making the statement and sadly, often the organization itself. The organizations that make such a statement need to be concerned when the economy turns around, because it is these organizations that do not show their employees that they are valued, but rather just cogs in the machine. Really caring organizations show empathy and concern and look for ways to continuously improve their employees.
There are many ways that organizations can make their organization stronger. First, ask your people what types of skills training they think they need. Do you have a person within your organization that is especially strong in that particular skill? Get them to teach a half-day session or even a Lunch & Learn on the topic and give them a perk like being able to leave early or even a comp day if the training is longer. Yes, there is a soft-cost to this, but the benefit to the organization is much greater. Can't do that? How about a gift card to iTunes or Amazon? There are countless ways to show appreciation for someone without costing a lot.
Maybe you need to bring someone in to do the training. Before you bring in the high-priced trainers, see if there is a local college that offers the training where you can bring someone in at a much lower cost.
Continue to value your employees, even in a downturn and they will continue to value you as an employer!