How to save your key people and company from sex addiction disasters
Disaster! 6:13 pm, manager Trisha Woodard stops into her vice president’s office for discussion, interrupting him looking at his iPod and masturbating.
Who risks like this at work? Sexually compulsive people escape life’s pain and stressors by compulsively masturbating, viewing pornography, visiting strip-clubs or having extramarital affairs. The workplaceis a perfect shield from the impact of these problematic behaviors on their personal life. “Getting away with” sexual activities specifically banned by an employer only adds to the thrill. Risk actually increases reward. While the psychological field decided not to include sexual addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version 5, research shows brain activity of these patients mimics that of drug addicts reports study author Valerie Voon, University of Cambridge (Forbes.)1(link is external)
What sexual compulsivity is:
- spending inordinate amounts of time sexual activity
- marked by sudden escalation
- followed by irresponsibility in important life areas
- a minimization of the risks involved
- behavior that is ego-syntonic (seems reasonable to the compulsive)
- in every social strata
- increased risks to feel the same euphoria
- could be concurrent with other diagnoses, ex – bipolar
- a dangerous loss to companies – key people, reputation, productivity, $
What it’s not:
- A simple high sex drive
- Necessarily perversion (exhibitionists, voyeurs, or pedophiles)
- Only male (1% female usually with internet relational sex sites)2(link is external)
Is the risk to companies increasing? Technically, only 5% of the population meets diagnosable proportions of sexual compulsivity defined as continuing behavior regardless of negative consequences in a cycle fueled by secrecy and shame. Cybersex, however, is “affordable, assessable, and anonymous… the Triple A engine,” explains sex researcher Dr. Alvin Cooper, fueling increasing pornography use every year with a broadening population. Productivity is the most expensive loss to industry with worker users averaging 1 hour, 45 minutes each viewing session (approximately 12 weeks annually if once a day) per Nielson’s monitoring (CBSnews.)3(link is external)
Compromised key people in companies are let go for indiscretions as often as the ranks in order to insure the uniform application of policies and avoid discrimination suits. Companies suffer loss of direction, cost of replacement and frequently legal danger specific to the infraction. For instance, corporations are liable for what is viewed on their servers and have a duty to investigate a report about pornography use. Failure of these measures can mean criminal infractions (viewing of child pornography) or a lawsuit for anything from sexual harassment to failing to provide a suitable work environment.
Facts about cybersex and business:
- 70% of pornographic sites are accessed from 9am-5pm (Forbes, 2012)4(link is external)
- International study shows 1/3 of all employees admitted to passing sexually explicit material along to coworkers (NBCnews.com)http://www.nbcnews.com/id/5899345/ns/technology_and_science-security/t/porn-work-problem-persists/#.VMPa0ZPjlOQ(link is external)5
- 1/2 claimed exposure to sexually explicit material by coworkers (NBCnews.com)6(link is external)
- When companies dismiss an employee for misusing the internet, 84% of the time it is for viewing inappropriate material (Washington Times)7(link is external)
How can companies avert a crisis?
- Get to know your people – managers too busy to know the personalities of their staff will miss important signals of inconsistent behavior. Reduce work stress by balancing demanding productivity periods with compensatory breaks. Be alert to:
a drop in performance
irresponsibility from someone previously responsible
accompanying reports of relational breakups/divorce
Review clear, written policies annually on inappropriate sexual behavior – Set company expectations from day one for appropriate work behavior followed by annual reminders to increase compliance and decrease an appearance of indifference. Company loyalty should take precedence over social reticence about reporting a colleague shielding whistleblowers.
Monitor and filter all company computer servers and devices against sexually explicit material. Inform employees of tracking software. Block pornographic material and inappropriate sites. Keep anti-viral software current. (Facebook, a smart company, won’t post if “sex” is in the title!)
Human relations provide resources for early treatment options
Sex therapists who treat sexual compulsivity can provide diagnostic evaluations regarding the appropriateness of out-patient intensive therapy keeping a person in full-time employment or prescribing in-patient hospitalization.
Join me on Valentine’s Day (it’s a Sunday!) for the iTunes podcast premiere of Foreplay – Radio Sex Therapy where my co-host, psychotherapist Tony Delmedico, and myself help you get the most out of your sex life.