Spellman said businesses must start "looking inwards and putting staff back at the heart of our organisations".
Writing in The Times, she added: "Throughout the downturn, managers needed to prioritise investment in staff development to get their organisations in the best position to take advantage of the upturn. Encouragingly, our most recent survey shows that business leaders are taking this on board. Their new year priorities include providing more immediate support to boost employee performance and saying 'thank you' more often."
Her comments follow the CMI's Future Forecast survey of 1,337 managers at the end of 2009, which showed that 27% were planning to acknowledge and reward their staff more often. It also showed that 45% would support the development of team skills.
Despite this, respondents admitted that certain barriers could stifle progress in this area. Lack of time was cited as a barrier by 75%, reduced budgets by 42% and reduced workforce by 33%.