We are a nation of stressed staff - eating lunch ‘al desko’ as well as working overtime, through holidays and even when ill, according to new research.

The Big Work Survey of 2,000 UK working adults and 500 senior decision makers across Great Britain found 64 per cent of us admit to being stressed at work.

The research, conducted by YouGov on behalf of health insurance provider Westfield Health, found 82 per cent of employees had worked over their contractual hours in the last 12 months and three-fifths (59 per cent) admit to turning up despite being ill because of work commitments.

Nearly half of us (46 per cent) eat lunch at our desk/place of work - and 54 per cent don’t take breaks (other than lunch) on a typical day – with 29 per cent revealing they have even missed longer breaks by cancelling annual leave because of work commitments.

And our colleagues don’t always help reduce our stress levels, it seems, with the top three workers’ annoying habits rated as regular lateness, gossiping and loud talking.

Westfield Health Executive Director Paul Shires said: “There are certainly positive signs to be found in this survey, with the majority of employees saying they like their jobs. Meanwhile, 95 per cent of senior decision makers believe workforce health is important to the success of their organisation. But it is shocking to hear more than a quarter of workers have cancelled holiday time because of work pressures.”

Scottish workers are the UK’s most stressed workforce (71 per cent) compared with Wales who were the least with just 52 per cent. Two thirds (66 per cent) of the North West / West Midlands say they are stressed and 69 per cent of the Yorkshire & Humber workforce.

Further findings from the survey include:

• Water is the nation’s drink of choice in the workplace, followed by coffee and then tea
• Richard Branson is the UK’s ‘dream boss’
• Of those that find their current job stressful, 47 per cent choose to spend time with family to unwind after work, while 31 per cent opt for exercise…
• …but worryingly, more than a third (35 per cent) try to counter stress by drinking alcohol and 27 per cent admit to comfort eating.

Westfield Health’s Chamber Primary Health Plan, which is available to all members of the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, offers a full confidential counselling service, which includes a 24 hour counselling and advice line, as well as up to six face to face counselling sessions or CBT sessions.

For more information about the Chamber Plan, visit www.westfieldhealth.com/chamber or call 0845 602 1629, available 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.