Looking for a decent way to lay off workers? Consider the "rotating layoff," which converts such firings from an all-or-nothing proposition into a pain-sharing experience. Instead of handing out pink slips to a few employees while the rest stay on full-time, all workers participate in a rotating layoff.

Here's how John Leehman, co-owner of Bread Loaf Construction Co., in Middlebury, Vt., designed his accommodative plan: instead of eliminating 10 people from a team of 30, Leehman asks the entire team to work 33% fewer hours by reporting for duty only two weeks out of every three. Leehman "rotates" the layoff week among workers so that Bread Loaf always has 20 team members on hand. "No one loses a job or benefits, and we have a temporary cut in overhead," explains Leehman.

This novel approach has allowed Bread Loaf to attract and keep desirable employees in the notoriously cyclical construction industry, but it could be a solution to unpredictable work flow in other industries, too. Leehman finds that the slight drop in efficiency that results from job switching "is offset by an increase in energy." -- Ellyn E. Spragins

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