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I've spoken to so many business owners and consultants this year about how to survive the downturn--how to save money, operate more cheaply, find free resources, start up on a shoestring. Everyone's looking for anything that can help them hold on until the economy turns.

The hard times have inspired a lot of innovation. One of my favorite stories I read all year was about an innovative way to approach layoffs that keeps idled workers connected to the company until you can call them back to work.
It's also known as attached unemployment, or temporary layoff. Rather than simply cutting the worker off, you can have them work fewer hours or days and draw unemployment the rest of the time. Employers file the claims on behalf of the worker.

NPR reported only 2.5 percent of unemployment claims are attached, but that more small businesses are adopting this layoff method. If you have key workers but really can't keep them on full time right now, this format allows business owners to send a big "I care" message to the worker. Often, the company continues healthcare benefits. There are weekly check-ins to see how they're doing and to inform workers of progress at the company toward being able to hire them back. What a great way to inspire company loyalty.

Other companies have used other ways of keeping workers--with flex time, job-sharing, or all-company furloughs helping to stretch the budget while retaining staff. Anything that keeps the team together. 

Because as the economy turns, the advantage will go to those who're ready to plug and play. Companies that have to rebuild their teams will be a lap behind. Where will you be?

What creative strategies have you used to hang on to workers? Leave a comment and let us know.