According to a 2016 survey, around 50 percent of employees in the United States feel unsatisfied with their jobs. However, a new study suggests a surprising way to boost satisfaction in the workplace: maintain a healthy sex life.
Researchers found that adults who reported a more active sex life at home were more likely to report greater satisfaction and engagement at work.
Study co-author Keith Leavitt, an associate professor in the College of Business at Oregon State University, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the Journal of Management.
Sex is known to prompt the release of dopamine - a neurotransmitter that regulates the reward and pleasure centers of the brain. Sex also stimulates the release of the "love hormone" oxytocin, which plays a role in sexual arousal and social bonding.
Taken together, it is perhaps no surprise that sex can boost mood and psychological well-being.
For their study, Leavitt and colleagues decided to investigate how sex might impact mood and behavior in the workplace.
The researchers came to their findings by enrolling 159 married, employed adults, all of whom completed a short survey twice daily for 2 weeks.
The survey asked participants about their sexual engagement at home, their mood the day following sexual engagement, and their behavior at work the day after sexual engagement.
A 'reminder that sex has social, emotional, and physiological benefits'
The results revealed that sexual engagement was associated with more positive moods the following morning.
Participants who reported better moods as a result of having sex the previous day also reported greater job satisfaction and increased engagement during their workday.
The findings remained after accounting for other factors that might impact mood, including marital satisfaction and sleep quality, the team reports.
According to Leavitt, their findings are a "reminder that sex has social, emotional, and physiological benefits, and it's important to make it a priority."
"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.
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."
The study results also highlight the negative impact that work-home conflict can have for sexual engagement, after finding that adults who brought their work into their home environment were much less likely to have sex. This, in turn, could lead to poorer productivity in the workplace.
Leavitt notes that the widespread use of smartphones and other devices has fueled the expectation that employees are contactable and will respond to emails and other work demands outside of working hours.
"Technology offers a temptation to stay plugged in, but it's probably better to unplug if you can," he says. "And employers should encourage their employees to completely disengage from work after hours."