When business slows and you need to cut expenses, one option is to reduce staffing hours. Instead of doing this by laying off employees, consider instituting a four-day workweek with standard eight-hour days. Reducing wages and FICA by 20% can be just the medicine to help get your company through tough times.

Even though your employees probably know that business is slow, call a meeting to explain the downturn in revenue. Let them know that a four-day workweek is the best way to keep the company going during this slow time, allowing you to spread the burden rather than lose good people.

Emphasize that there will be no reduction in benefits, sick days, or personal days. If an employee needs the weekly salary they have been earning, he or she could use a personal day or vacation time for the fifth day. They can do this until these days run out, and it may be that the company is back to a normal workweek before that time comes.

You can also suggest that employees take on outside work on that fifth day.

To show your understanding of the situation and to cut additional expenses, consider reducing your salary by 20%.

During the two weeks before the change to a four-day workweek, meet with small groups of employees to review the situation and to solicit comments and suggestions. After the switch to the shorter week, keep staff informed of any changes you're implementing in the company's sales and marketing practices to address the slowdown.

—Howard Scott is a business writer and small-business tax preparer in Pembroke, Mass.