A recession brings everything into focus. Cash – that might previously have been directed to a range of initiatives – is hoarded for the proverbial rainy day.

When money is tight, discretional spend takes a back seat. Rather than splash their cash on marketing or innovation programmes, businesses are keen to concentrate on operational expenditure.

It’s often a smart strategy. The reason most firms fold during a downturn is due to cash flow concerns. Cutting back on the nice-to-haves means the organisation will survive and be able to grow in the long-term.

But for every smart strategy there is a considerably less beguiling downside. After all, how do you go about identifying which areas can receive cuts? And how can you be sure the cuts won’t have a detrimental affect?

Training is often considered to be one area that businesses can cut. Rather than being viewed as a means of up-skilling the workforce, additional schooling is often seen as unwarranted extra.

But without top notch training, expensive human resources and IT assets will be under-used and ineffective. Such risks mean you must prioritise training and ensure you deliver a high level of skills to your project team.

Some firms are of the belief than training staff simply provides skills that will be taken out of the business when an employee leaves. That is a misguided approach.

Workers are likely to take a great deal of knowledge when they leave, but your organisation would be well-advised to ensure staff are as informed as possible while employed.

Extra training will keep workers in tip top form. What is more, employees like a challenge. Keep workers trained and they are less likely to leave – and then the additional knowledge will stay in-house anyway.

Give your staff tailored and user-focused training to make the most of your IT systems and they will deliver benefits for the business; benefits that will more than payback the outlay in education.

So is training a really discretional spend? It is time to educate your executive team that such thinking is pure folly.