One pathway to happiness at work may begin in the bedroom. A study published in the Journal of Management found that people were more satisfied and engaged with their jobs on the days after they’d had sex.
It’s no secret that our jobs affect our home lives. Workplace demands can keep us from our loved ones. And even when we’re with them, it can be hard to unplug. But the reverse is also true: Events and emotional currents in the rest of our lives do sometimes spill over into our time on the clock. Piles of studies have investigated everything from the link between a manager’s insomnia and their employees’ job performance [PDF] to family dynamics and workplace tension. What studies had not investigated is whether getting busy can help take care of business.
So management experts from Oregon State University, the University of Washington, and the University of Oregon decided to find out. They enlisted 159 people to fill out online surveys about their work and sex lives. The participants had an average age of 35, and split pretty evenly between men and women. Most, but not all, identified as white (79.9 percent) and heterosexual (90.8 percent). All participants were married, and more than half had at least one child.
Several times a day for two weeks, participants answered questions like “How many times did you have sexual intercourse between the end of your work shift yesterday and right now?” They were asked to rate their mood, level of family stress, and job engagement and satisfaction. A control group of workers answered similar questions, but rather than talking about their sex lives, they rated their satisfaction with their marriages.
Analysis of the results revealed two trends: First, that family-related stress decreased the amount of sex couples were having; and second, perhaps more surprisingly, that employees had significantly better workdays if they’d had sex in the last 24 hours. Marital satisfaction was a positive influence, but it couldn't compete with the boost workers got from getting it on. "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," co-author Keith Leavitt said in a statement.
More research will be needed to confirm the link. This was, after all, the first study on the subject; it only included married people, and it only lasted two weeks. Still, it serves as a good reminder that even the work-obsessed among us could benefit from occasionally focusing on other things.
Just can't convince yourself to make sex a priority? Think of it as a step toward that corner office, Leavitt said. “Making a more intentional effort to maintain a healthy sex life should be considered an issue of human sustainability, and as a result, a potential career advantage.”