by Meridith Levinson

Pay Cuts, Furloughs or Reduced Work Hours?

Apr 21, 20092 mins

Which would you tolerate to avoid losing your job—if you had the choice, of course? Share your opinion and register your vote with

The layoffs are coming. The layoffs are coming. That remains the unfortunate reality at companies across the United States, as 71 percent of CEOs expect to cut staff inside their organizations over the next six months, according to Business Roundtable, a professional association for CEOs.

With unemployment at a 25-year high of 8.25 percent, it should come as no surprise that 94 percent of adults who are employed full-time would rather take a pay cut or accept a reduction in their work hours to avoid losing their and others’ jobs, according to a recent survey sponsored by consultancy Work + Life Fit. Some forward-thinking companies that are on the same wavelength as their employees have already begun implementing a variety of cost-reduction strategies aimed at reducing their labor costs without layoffs.

According to the Work + Life Fit survey…

  • 78 percent of respondents would adjust to a compressed work week (say, working 40 hours in four days instead of five) if it meant they could keep their jobs.
  • 59 percent would accept additional unpaid vacation days or one to two weeks of unpaid leave (a furlough) if doing so gave them more job security.
  • 48 percent would share their job with a co-worker to avoid a layoff.
  • 47 percent would work fewer hours for less pay to circumvent a workforce reduction.
  • 41 percent would change their employment status from a full-time employee with their employer to a contractor if that would save their company money.
  • 41 percent are willing to work the same amount of hours while taking a pay cut, again to avoid a layoff.
  • 31 percent would take a month or more unpaid sabbatical.
  • Only five percent of respondents would prefer a layoff over the above alternatives.

What’s your preference? Would you take a pay cut, a furlough, unpaid vacation or a change in your schedule? Or would you rather just accept your severance and collect unemployment? Take our poll and share your opinion.