Employee financial wellness improved in the first quarter of 2013, extending a long-term trend that began in the first quarter of 2010, according to new research, Financial Finesse Inc.

Employees’ financial wellness score reached 5.2 out of 10 vs. 4.9 out of 10 one year ago, as measured by Financial Finesse’s proprietary financial wellness scale.

“This general improvement may be related to an increase in proactive behavior,” the survey states. “Seventy-five percent of questions received by our team of [financial] professionals dealt with making financial plans and improving financial behaviors, rather than dealing with financial problems or emergencies.

“In addition to asking more proactive questions, employees also took more proactive steps toward retirement planning and investing,” the survey adds. “Employee utilization of financial education is also increasing, as employees seem to be actively taking control of their finances rather than waiting for a financial problem to occur.”

The report reveals that improvements in financial wellness are most pronounced in lower income households. In the first quarter of 2013, 55 percent of these households indicated they better manage cash flow and therefore spend less each month. This compares with 50 percent in 2012.

Among the survey’s additional findings:

40% of employees reported having used a retirement calculator to see if they are on track for retirement. This is up from 37% in Q1 2012.

49% of employees reported having taken a risk tolerance assessment, up from 43% in Q1 2012.

39% of employees reported feeling confident in the way their investments are allocated, up from 33% in Q1 2012.

a smaller percentage reported having 15% or more invested in a single position, while a greater percentage reported rebalancing their portfolios and reviewing combined assets to develop a master asset allocation strategy.

Eighty-one percent of employees are at risk of not saving enough for retirement, down from 86% in Q1 2012 and 85% in Q1 2011.

Seven out of ten employees selected retirement planning as a top priority in Q1 2013, making it the most often selected.

Over 90% of employees that completed a financial wellness assessment currently contribute to their employer-sponsored retirement plan.