An Oregon State University (OSU) researcher has found that maintaining a healthy relationship that includes a healthy sex life will help employees stay happy and engaged in their work, which benefits the employees and the organizations they work for.
Keith Leavitt, an associate professor in OSU's College of Business, worked with Christopher Barnes and Trevor Watkins of the University of Washington and David Wagner of the University of Oregon to study of the work and sex habits of married employees, by following 159 married employees over the course of two weeks, asking them to complete two brief surveys each day.
They found that employees who engaged in sex reported more positive moods the next day, and the elevated mood levels in the morning led to more sustained work engagement and job satisfaction throughout the workday. The effect, which appears to linger for at least 24 hours, was equally strong for both men and women and was present even after researchers took into account marital satisfaction and sleep quality, which are two common predictors of daily mood.
“We make jokes about people having a 'spring in their step,' but it turns out this is actually a real thing and we should pay attention to it,” Leavitt, an expert in organizational behavior and management, was quoted as saying in a news release from OSU.
Sexual intercourse triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the reward centers in the brain, as well as oxytocin, a neuropeptide associated with social bonding and attachment. That makes sex a natural and relatively automatic mood elevator, Leavitt said.
Published this month in the Journal of Management, the study underscores the value of a strong work-life balance.
The study also showed that bringing work-related stress home from the office negatively impinges on employees' sex lives. In an era when smart phones are prevalent and after-hours responses to work emails are often expected, the findings highlight the importance of leaving work at the office, Leavitt said. When work carries so far into an employee's personal life that they sacrifice things like sex, their engagement in work can decline.
“Employers should encourage their employees to completely disengage from work after hours,” he said.