Readers of this blog will remember my Oct. 22 entry stemming from a recent Grant Thornton CFO survey that showed just how unsure CFOs were about the economy, as reflected by their reluctance to hire more people and invest in operations. The comments from that were pretty lively, something for which I am always eternally grateful to my readers for. Even if you don’t agree – hell, especially if you don’t agree, sound off. The industry needs as many of its best and brightest making their opinions known as possible.

Anyway, Grant Thornton came out with additional findings today that run very close to what they ran the first time. This time, the findings reveal that30% of the CFOs and senior comptrollers polled were looking to cut back on health care benefits. 23% planned to reduce bonuses and 18% plannes to reduce stock options and equity-based consumption.

Some 84% noted that employee benefits such as health care and pensions were their greatest pricing pressure. That is up 16% from six months ago, which seems strange, given that the economy has not noticeably worsened in that time. Or has it? I’ve been nestled so deep in my Communist bunker to notice.

(I kid. But seriously, I don’t recall economic conditions worsening dramatically in the last half-year. They haven’t been great – “stagnant” is the word I would use – but enough to account for a 16 point gain in COF willingness to thwack employee compensation? Really?)

My comments toward all of this are largely the same as from my “No Hoarding” column, so I will spare you a rehash of my argument. In the meantime, here is the data from Grant Thornton’s results, pulled from their press release. Interesting reading.

About which type(s) of pricing pressure are you most concerned? (may select more than one)

10/2010          3/2010

Employee benefits (e.g., health care, pensions)           84%                 68%

Raw materials (e.g., food, metals)                               27%                 29%

Energy                                                                         21%                 26%

Other                                                                           12%                 17%

Company Insurance (not including healthcare)           11%                 19%

Is your company making any changes to the average costs per employee in any of these employee benefit and compensation areas?

Salary raises
10/2010          3/2010

Decrease          13%                    32%

Same                65%                 53%

Increase           21%                 15%

Bonuses

10/2010          3/2010

Decrease          23%                 44%

Same                63%                 47%

Increase           14%                 8%

Stock options/equity based

10/2010          3/2010

Decrease          18%                 29%

Same                79%                 66%

Increase           3%                   5%

401 (k) match

10/2010          3/2010

Decrease          10%                 21%

Same                84%                 74%

Increase           5%                   5%

Health care benefits

10/2010          3/2010

Decrease          30%                 29%

Same                49%                 66%

Increase           21%                 6%

Life insurance benefits

10/2010          3/2010

Decrease          9%                   11%

Same                86%                 86%

Increase           5%                   2%

Disability benefits

10/2010          3/2010

Decrease          8%                   10%

Same                86%                 88%

Increase           6%                   1%

The Gamut publishes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, as well as on the front page of each print issue of National Underwriter Life & Health.