In the last few weeks I have heard both Alan Sugar (on TV) and Richard Branson (in the newspaper) both urge companies not to knee jerk in the current financial turmoil and kick out staff to save costs. Both said that this should be a last resort not a first step. And Sugar said that a company that retained its talent is able to respond fastest when the up swing occurs. Branson says, expand where you can and contract where you have to, but consider part time working, extended unpaid leave, and retraining programmes before you make people redundant as it causes such uncertainty and lack of trust in the oganisation that it takes for ever to get back to where you were before the axe fell.
Let me add two points:
Honesty is better than lying about the current positon. Odds are, lots more people know the situation better than you.
The collective brains of the organisation working on cost-cutting can come up with amazing results.