Study Says Having Sex Makes You More Productive at Work

If you want to be happier and more productive at work, the secret is to be more reproductive at home. At least, that’s what a new study out of Oregon State University concluded. Couples who have active sex lives do better in the office. It sounds great, but the study is arousing … some skepticism.

Keith Leavitt, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Business, looked at 159 married employees for two weeks and had them complete brief surveys every day. The people who engaged in a lil coitus reported feeling better the next morning, and those good vibes carried over through the workday, lasting up to 24 hours. Both male and female sex-havers reported feeling more engaged and satisfied with their work at equal rates, and this feeling was consistent even when factoring in marital satisfaction and sleep quality.

Leavitt attribute much of the good mood to the dopamine that’s released during intercourse.

“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 said in a release. “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.”

Here’s probably where we should point out that two weeks isn’t a very long time for a study like this, and 159 people isn’t exactly a sweeping sample size. The study also suggests that sex and job satisfaction are a two-way street, making the conclusions a little more gray — and not in the 50 Shades way. The research found that people who brought their work home with them and were stressed at their job were less likely to have sex. In this reading, having sex is a symptom of a good job, not the cause of it.

There’s probably at least a kernel of truth to the idea that a good 69 leads to a better 9 to 5, so to speak. It’s just much more complicated than the study’s main takeaway makes it seem.

“This is a reminder that sex has social, emotional and physiological benefits, and it’s important to make it a priority. Just make time for it,” Leavitt said. He’s not wrong, but the study seems like it should be just that, a reminder, rather than final proof that nightly hookups will magically cure all your work woes.

Why You Should Skip Checking Your Email First Thing in the Morning

It’s tempting to check your email right when you get into the office, but it can mess with your work flow and eat into your creative time. Here’s what we mean.

Jumping into email first thing puts you into reply mode and distracts you, wasting your otherwise refreshed mind on unimportant tasks. Harvard Business Review explains further how email derails your productivity in the morning:

This is the time to do focused, strategic work and have important conversations. If you read your email as you get up, your mind will get sidetracked and you’ll begin the slide toward reactive leadership.

Skipping email in favor of heads down time works best if you’re a morning person since that’s when your mind is most creative and focused. If another time of day is when your mind is most active, apply this to those hours so you can churn out ideas instead of slogging through email.

‘The Neverending Flu’ Spreads, Leaving Small Businesses Running On Empty

If your favorite small store or other small business is short-handed this winter, you might have to blame a worse-than-average flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu cases nationwide and in 35 out of 50 states are moderate to high, and absences are hitting businesses hard.

If you’ve ever wondered, the CDC has an entire website dedicated to weekly flu statistics, but one thing that it doesn’t keep track of is how many of those people who were sick stayed home from work or school.

While the rise of telecommuting has made it easier to still work when you’re contagious but not too ill, there are plenty of jobs where working from home isn’t an option.

The founder of a company that sends overnight caregivers to homes with infants talked to the Associated Press about how the flu has affected her business. There have been times when a quarter of her workforce was out of commission.

“I can’t tell you how awful it is to be speaking with a mom on the verge of tears because we don’t have staff to help,” she told the AP.

Not all flu-like illnesses are the flu, either: For some people, the symptoms of Listeriosis can resemble the flu, and other foodborne illnesses also keep employees home.

While the AP article focused on this from a business point of view, we as consumers should remember to be understanding when a business is short-handed, since that’s better than forcing sick people to come to work.

What else can consumers do to deal with flu season? Prevention goes a long way: Hand-washing and getting a flu shot if you haven’t already can protect you and people around you.

At your job, have plans set before anyone is out about who covers for whom when a sick day strikes.

Workaholism Linked to ADHD and Depression

People who work too much may be more likely to have ADHD or depression, according to a new study from Norway.

Researchers found that, among the workaholics in the study, nearly 33 percent had symptoms of ADHD, compared with about 13 percent of non-workaholics. For the study, workaholics were defined as those who met seven criteria, including whether they work so much that it has negatively influenced their health, or they feel stressed when they are prohibited from working.

“Workaholics scored higher on all the psychiatric symptoms than non-workaholics,” Cecilie Schou Andreassen, a clinical psychologist at the University of Bergen in Norway, said in a statement.

For example, nearly 26 percent of workaholics had symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), compared with about 9 percent among non-workaholics.

Moreover, about 34 percent of workaholics had symptoms of anxiety, compared with 12 percent of non-workaholics.

And nearly 9 percent of workaholics had symptoms of depression, compared with 2.6 percent of non-workaholics, according to the study, published May 18 in the journal PLOS ONE.

The results show that “taking work to the extreme may be a sign of deeper psychological or emotional issues,” Schou Andreassen said. But the study looked at people at just one point in time, so it cannot say whether working too much may lead to mental health problems, or whether having mental health problems may lead to working too much, or whether some other factor could lead to both.

It also isn’t clear what mechanism could be behind the potential link, the researchers said. “Whether this reflects overlapping genetic vulnerabilities, disorders leading to workaholism or, conversely, workaholism causing such disorders, remains uncertain,” Schou Andreassen said.

For example, researchers speculated that people with ADHD might have to work harder and longer to compensate for possible issues caused by their condition. But it is also possible that their disorder makes them more likely to take on projects and tasks impulsively, which may result in taking on more work than they can realistically do during regular working hours.

As for the link between workaholism, anxiety and depression, working a lot might serve as an escape mechanism from negative feelings, the researchers speculated. But it could also be that people with anxiety may fear failing and therefore go over their work several times, which forces them to work longer. And people with depression may work more slowly due to their low energy levels and therefore have to compensate by working longer hours, the researchers said in their study.

In the study, researchers asked 16,426 people in Norway to rate how often during the past year they thought about how they might free up time to do more work, how often they worked to reduce negative feelings such as guilt or anxiety, and much more time they spent working than they initially intended.

Based on the answers, the researchers found that 1,287 (nearly 8 percent) in the study were workaholics.

When the researchers took a closer look at their data, they found that workaholism was linked to certain personal characteristics. People who were younger, single, highly educated and of a higher economic status showed greater levels of workaholism than people without these characteristics, the researchers found.

Workaholism was also more common among women, managers, self-employed people and people working in the private sector, the researchers found.

It should not be assumed that people who are successful at work do not have mental health problems, the researchers said.

How Do You Deal With End-Of-Year Burnout at Work?

Work hard enough for long enough and eventually, you’ll hit burnout. It happens, but it’s never convenient for your boss. So, how do you let your employer know that you need a break before you break?

Advice site The Muse has a few suggestions for having that awkward conversation with your boss when you’re getting burnt out. They suggest starting by talking with a friend or confidante who can give you some perspective and hashing out what you really need:

Before talking with your boss, a great first step is to confide in a friend or speak with your partner or a family member about where you are and what you’re feeling. The act of verbalizing what’s happening, while difficult, is essential in starting to get the support you need.

Once you’ve done that, Muse suggests bringing your needs to your boss before trying to form the solution. Putting the burden on yourself to solve everything is probably how you got in this mess to begin with. It might be a difficult conversation, but hopefully you and your boss can work together to give you a break to get back on track.

Of course, anyone who’s ever had a crappy job knows how hard that “hopefully” can be, so we want to know how you handle burnout. What strategies do you use to cope with overwhelming work loads? Have you been able to work with your boss to come up with a mutually beneficial solution? If you can’t, how do you handle burnout when your company doesn’t have your back?

Being Nice At Work May Be Killing Your Career

Sugar, spice and everything nice might be society’s traditional recipe for acceptable women, but it’s not a great way to pay the rent. According to a new study out of Israel’s Tel Aviv University, being nice puts women at a disadvantage in the workplace.

“We found that women were consistently and objectively status-detracted, which means they invest more of themselves in their jobs than they receive, and are compensated less than their male colleagues across the board,” explained Michal Biron, a professor at Israel’s Haifa University who worked on the study.

That, unfortunately, is nothing new — as the funny video below proves. But the researchers also found that women who broke out of traditional gender expectations and acted more dominant and demanding, rather than nice and agreeable, managed to up their salaries. Nice women, on the other hand, got fewer promotions and lower salaries than everybody else.

[youtube id=”bm3YfMtgEdI” width=”600″ height=”350″]

The real world truth hurts

To discover this latest piece of the elusive gender income gap puzzle, researchers from Israel and The Netherlands randomly selected 375 employees from a Dutch electronics company and compared tenure, education and performance data to promotion statistics and income. They also compared education, performance and experience to income and rank.

“… dominant women were not punished for reflecting such female-incongruent traits as extroversion and assertiveness,” explained Renee de Reuver, a researcher from Tilburg University who worked on the study. “In fact, we found that the more dominant a woman is at work, the less likely she is to be status-detracted. We found a similar pattern among men – the more dominant a man is, the more likely he is to be better compensated.”

Unfortunately, the news goes south pretty quickly. Leaning in can only get you so far.

“But alarmingly, dominant women were still found to earn less than even the most agreeable men who aren’t promoted,” de Reuver continued.

Apparently, dominant women get paid more than agreeable women, and dominant men receive more than agreeable men. But men across the board receive more than women across the board. Even the most submissive men get higher salaries than dominant women.

Culture change (is hard)

It’s easy to say that women should just be more dominant, but that’s tough in a culture that trains women to be submissive from childhood.

“We have witnessed dramatic changes in the definition of traditionally male and female qualities over the past several decades. But some people still really cling to the idea that some qualities are exclusively male and exclusively female,” explained Sharon Toker, a professor at Israel’s Tel Aviv University who worked on the study. “Some professional women are still afraid to exhibit a trait that’s incongruent with presumed notions of female character. The result is financial retribution.”

It might be easier to just stop training people to reward masculine characteristics in the workplace. Besides, women generally don’t have any idea this is going on.

“We found that women aren’t aware that more agreeable women are being punished for being nice,” said Biron. “The nice women we polled in our study even believed they were earning more than they deserved.”

As a society, we need to quit punishing women for being women. But in the short term, if you’re a women, try being more of a jerk. It could just pay off.

How Will The New Overtime Law Affect You?

If you’re currently working in a salaried position making less than $47,476 per year, listen up. New overtime regulations that may change the numbers on your weekly paycheck have been postponed, but for some businesses, the ruling came after they had already made adjustments to accommodate the ruling, which was scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1. Regardless of how your business handled the transition, you need to understand what the change could mean for your paycheck.

But first, let’s cover the news. According to The Washington Post, the federal court in the Eastern District of Texas issued an injunction this week that prevents the Department of Labor from mandating overtime pay for those who don’t earn about $47,500 a year.

According to updated regulations released in May by the Department of Labor, more than 4.2 million Americans who had been previously considered “exempt” would be eligible to receive overtime pay for any hours over 40 worked in a week. The original deadline for that to roll out was Dec. 1, but the injunction changes that timing.

Under the current rules, salaried workers were only entitled to overtime if they made less than an annual salary of $23,660. Employees who made more than this amount were exempt from overtime, as were employees who were considered exempt based on their duties or position — for example those who perform high-level managerial work, sales outside of their home office, or other “expert” tasks.

This was to have been the first update to rules governing overtime since 2004. The new rule also included a provision in which the salary minimum point will be automatically updated every three years, “based on wage growth over time.”

If the ruling had gone into play as scheduled

With the new regulation, that pay minimum would jump to $47,476 per year — or $913 per week -— regardless of an employee’s job classification. There are still a few exempt positions, such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, police officers and first responders, but the majority of Americans would be covered by the new provision. And unlike laws that make exceptions for small businesses, this new regulation is not dependent upon your company’s size.

There are a number of ways that your employer could have handled this and not all of them would add dollars to your bottom line.

Your employer could pay you overtime. This is the most straightforward approach to the new regulation. If you currently make less than $47,476 per year, your employer may opt to simply pay you overtime for any hours you work over 40 each week. If you regularly work overtime, this will mean more money in your paycheck.

Your employer could raise your salary. If your salary is close to the minimum threshold, your employer may opt to raise it above that amount, thereby making you exempt from overtime. You won’t earn any overtime, but you will get a pay bump to compensate.

Your employer could limit your hours. Employers may decide to control costs by keeping a close eye on hours worked to make sure that their employees don’t go over 40 hours each week. This may involve hiring more part-time staff or redistributing duties so that the same amount of work can get done without anyone receiving overtime. You won’t see any extra dough, but you might have some extra time on your hands if you no longer need to work more than 40 hours a week.

Your employer could change your salary. It’s a bit of a workaround, but your employer may opt to change your salary and make your hourly pay lower, therefore covering the cost of any potential overtime that you may earn. You won’t make any extra money and will likely work the same number of hours that you did before.

If you’re not sure how your company plans to handle the new overtime regulation, it’s worth asking.

So now what happens?

The new regulation had been slated to go into effect on Dec. 1, but a coalition of states and business groups sued the government to push this date back and allow companies to phase in the regulations. Meanwhile, some businesses had already rolled out the changes for workers — and it’s not easy to roll back any kind of pay raise.

As for what happens next on the federal level, there’s plenty of uncertainty about if or how the newly minted Trump administration will handle it. On the campaign trail, President-elect Trump had indicated he wanted small businesses to be exempt from the ruling.

Turn Up The Music To Amp Up Your Workday

Do you whistle while you work or work best when you’re streaming iTunes? You’re not alone.

Nine out of 10 workers perform better if they have their tunes playing, and it’s not exactly news. A 1972 study from the University of Birmingham in England found that factory workers were more productive if music was playing during the day. More recent studies, like this 2005 study published in the Psychology of Music, have confirmed that music helps us focus and get our tasks done with more efficiency and satisfaction than we might without it.

Basically, listening to music while you work can be one of the most productive things you can do, says Michael Tyrrell, an author, composer and producer of Wholetones, a healing frequency music project that helps improve your health.

Music matters, Tyrrell explains, because there are specific frequencies that promote the body’s productivity centers by stimulating the brain and increasing the responsiveness of neurons within the brain. Music comes in handy because it helps you stay engaged, especially given how much of our time is being spent looking at screens.

“Certain frequencies make it easier to think, react and focus on what’s immediately in front of you,” Tyrrell adds. “This becomes especially useful when you have a repetitive task that you’ve been dreading. Turning on the right music with the right frequency can help you speed up balancing your checkbook, writing a stale report or even doing the dishes after dinner.”

Researchers have also found evidence that that music engages all parts of our brain, both emotional memories and physical movements.

“This means that music can relax us while it exercises our brain, keeping us healthy both inside and out,” says Christobel Llewellyn, a music educator and co-founder of Kinderjazz, a big jazz band aimed at encouraging kids through live music. “It can change our mood in an instant as it connects us with our memory, and this can keep us going when working on repetitive tasks as it transports us through our imagination to a higher place.”

Then again, it all depends on what kind of music you’re streaming — and what task you’re doing.

On the one hand, if you’re deep in writing mode, classical music (without distracting lyrics) might be more productive. On the other hand, if it’s noisy in your workplace and you have a report to complete, familiar songs or even a greatest hits compilation may be better to tune out the clatter. If you love working to a soundtrack, one of the best ways to use music to help improve productivity is to associate certain styles or mixes with certain activities, suggests John Turner, CEO and founder of QuietKit, which provides guided meditation for beginners.

“The way it works for me is that when I’m working, I put a specific mix on play, randomized, so I’ll cycle through songs in a random but continuous order,” he says. “And, because it’s the same mix I’ve listened to a million times before when working, I now associate hearing that music with working, and when I hit play on that mix, I get right into a work mindset.”

Older Americans Are Working Longer (And Harder) Than Ever

According to the Pew Research Center, more people age 65 and over are working now than at any time since the turn of the century. And they’re spending more time on the job than in previous years, too. By 2020, an estimated one fourth of American workers will be 55 or older, up from 19 percent in 2010. But why? Are seniors working longer because they want to or because they have to?

The answer is — yes.

There are a number of reasons seniors are staying in the workforce, and although earning a paycheck is important it’s only part of the story. Here’s a look at some of the reasons why potential retirees are staying on the clock.

Because they need the money

Kato Cooks, 66, recently retired from his job as the chief compliance officer for the city of Palo Alto, California — not because he wanted to retire, but because the job contract simply ended. He is seeking a new job now, partially because he’s bored and wants something productive to do with his days, but also because his retirement income from his public employees’ pension and Social Security won’t allow him to maintain his lifestyle.

Cooks is not alone in this realization. A few decades ago, retirees could count on combining Social Security with their company pension to live comfortably during retirement. But pension plans and Social Security payments are not what they used to be. And higher divorce rates means that many seniors are navigating the economics of retirement on their own. Combine these factors with increasing life spans, and it’s easy to see why seniors are having trouble making ends meet.

Because they’re living longer

Americans are living longer than ever before, and this plays a big role in retirement. Older Americans are delaying retirement both because they feel still feel young enough continue working and because they realize they might live longer than they expected.

In 1985, the average life expectancy in the U.S. was 71.1 for men and 78.2 for women. Today, the average life expectancy for is 76.3 and 82.3, respectively, for the average man and woman. Those extra years equate to extra dollars needed in retirement.

A few decades ago, retirees could expect a retirement that might last 10 years, if they were lucky. But now retirement funds need to last for 10, 20 or even 30 years. That means seniors will either need to stretch those dollars further or wait longer to use them. For many seniors, this is a solid reason to stay on the job.

Another big health-related reason that retirees are staying in the workforce has to do with the massive cost of health care for seniors, even after they become Medicare-eligible. Patty Cathey, an investment adviser with Smart Retirement Plan in Denver, notes that many seniors work primarily to take advantage of their employer’s health insurance benefits.

Because they want to stay connected

Author and public speaker Barry Maher always thought he would retire as soon as he could afford it. But once he reached retirement age, he realized just how much he truly loved what he did for a living.

For many seniors, the workplace is not just a place to make a paycheck; it’s where their friends are and where they have an opportunity stay active mentally, physically and socially. In the latest annual Transamerica Retirement poll, 34 percent of retirees said they wanted to keep working because they enjoy their occupation or like the social and mental engagement of the workplace.

“For many, an avocation is a large sense of one’s identity,” said Jennifer Myers, a financial adviser with SageVest Wealth Management. “For those individuals, retirement can translate into a loss of oneself. More importantly, it can translate into a loss of purpose. Staying active, whether employed or retired, is often key to happiness.”

Let’s face it, it’s not easy to make new friends as you get older. Volunteering, social clubs and religious groups may help, but in many cases, seniors find themselves surrounded by younger people who are in different life stages or have different interests. In this sense, it’s easier and more rewarding to stay on the job simply as a means to stay connected with others.

As Maher puts it, “I have a firm plan to retire the very moment my heart stops beating. Once my limbs start falling off, I may cut back a bit, but why would I ever retire?”

In addition to all of these benefits, working longer may also help you live longer, noted Dr. Noelle Nelson, author of “Happy Healthy…Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging Is Wrong and How To Get It Right.” A recent University of Oregon study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that people who worked even just one year past age 65 had an 11 percent lower mortality risk than those who retired and were in similar health. The researchers concluded that “early retirement may be a risk factor for mortality and [that a] prolonged working life may provide survival benefits.”

Why We Should Get 3-Day Weekends All The Time, According To Science

As those of us a three-day weekend, it is worth reassessing the amount of time we devote to work.

What if all weekends could last for three or even four days? What if the majority of the week could be given over to activities other than work? What if most of our time could be devoted to non-work activities of our own choosing?

To even pose these questions is to invite the criticism of Utopian thinking. While a fine idea in principle, working fewer hours is not feasible in practice.

Indeed, its achievement would come at the expense of lower consumption and increased economic hardship.

For some advocates of the work ethic, the route to health and happiness lies with the perpetuation of work, not with its reduction. Work makes us healthier and happier.

Such pro-work ideology is used to legitimate welfare reforms that seek to coerce the non-employed into work, whatever its rates of pay and qualitative features.

It also offers an ideological barrier to the case for spending less time at work. Working less is presented as a threat to our health and happiness, not a means to improve it.

Yet, the idea of working less is not only feasible, it is also the basis for a better standard of life. It is a mark of how we have come to accept work and its dominant influence in our lives that we do not grasp this idea more readily.

The costs of working more

A growing number of studies show the human costs of longer working hours. These include lower physical and mental health. Working long hours can add to the risk of having a stroke, coronary heart disease and developing type 2 diabetes.

By working most of the time, we also lose time with family and friends. And more than this we lose the ability to be and do things that make life valuable and worth living.

Our lives are often too much tied up in the work we do that we have little time and energy to find alternative ways of living – in short, our capacity to realise our talents and potential is curtailed by the work we do.

Work does not set us free, rather it hems us in and makes it more difficult to realize ourselves. All this speaks to the need to work less. We should challenge the work ethic and promote alternative ways of living that are less work centered.

And, if this reduction of time spent at work is focused on eliminating drudge work then we can also better realise the internal benefits of work itself. Working less may be a means not only to work better but also to enjoy life more.

Barriers to less work

Technological progress has advanced continuously over the past century, pushing up productivity. But not all the gains in productivity have fed through to shorter work hours.

At least in modern times, these gains have been used to increase the returns of the owners of capital, often at the cost of flatlining pay for workers.

The lack of progress in reducing time spent at work in modern capitalist economies reflects instead the influence of ideology as well as of power. On the one hand, the effects of consumerism have created powerful forces in favor of longer working hours.

Workers are constantly persuaded to buy more and in turn are drawn into working more, to keep up with the latest fad or fashion and to stay ahead of their peers.

On the other hand, the weakened power of labor relative to capital has created an environment that has suited the extension of work time. The recent expose of work practices at Amazon speaks to the power of capital in imposing poor working conditions, including excessive work hours, on workers.

The effects of rising inequality has also fed a long work hours culture by increasing the economic necessity to work more.

David Graeber makes the provocative claim that technology has advanced at the same time as what he calls “bullshit” or pointless jobs have multiplied.

This is why we have not realized Keynes’ prediction that we’d all be working 15-hour weeks in the 21st century, as a result of technological progress.

Instead, we are living in a society where work gets created that is of no social value. The reason for this, according to Graeber, is the need of the ruling class to keep workers in work.

While technology with the potential to reduce work time exists, the political challenge of a working population with time on its hands makes the ruling class unwilling to realise this potential. Working less, while feasible and desirable, is blocked by political factors.

Working for change

The costs of long work hours, as mentioned above, are poorer health and lower well-being for workers. But for employers too there are costs in terms of lower productivity and lower profitability.

Yet these costs seem to go unnoticed despite evidence pointing to their existence. Here again politics may explain why shorter work time has not been embraced by many employers.

Experiments in shorter working exist, to be sure. Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing retailer, is to allow its employees to work a four-day week.

This has been widely reported in a positive way. Workers will benefit from a better work-life balance, while the firm will reap the benefits of lower labor costs due to lower turnover costs.

Yet, on closer inspection, the new scheme to be introduced by Uniqlo has its downsides. In return for a four-day working week, workers will be expected to work ten-hour shifts during the days they work (a 40-hour working week will be squeezed into four days).

This is not only an extension to the normal length of the working day; it also puts at risk the potential rewards of working four days in the week. Workers may be so exhausted after working a four-day work week they need a full day to recover from their previous exertions.

In this case, their quality of work and life may not be enhanced at all; indeed it may be diminished, if they suffer the ill-effects of overwork.

Ironically, schemes such as the one to be introduced by Uniqlo illustrate the obstacles that remain in achieving less work. Only a reduction in the working week to 30 hours or less can be seen as genuine progress in the achievement of shorter work time.

For us to reach – and enjoy – a three-day or ideally a four-day weekend, we need to reimagine society in ways that subvert the prevailing work ethic. We need to embrace the idea of working less as a means to a life well lived. We need to reject the way of living that sees work as the be all and end all of life.

So enjoy the bank holiday while you can. See it as a reminder of a life that could be – a life that we should seek to achieve, by resolving to overcome the barriers, economic as well as ideological and political, to working less.