If you have healthy and engaged employees, your company is not only going to display higher levels of mental fitness and capabilities, but your overall bottom line will increase as well.

In an effort to increase the health and engagement of their employees, companies are looking into various wellness initiatives. However, most companies often start with a focus on the wrong area. When it comes to reshaping the landscape and vitality of your employees, the first area of focus needs to be on their sleep.

Creating a culture that prioritizes sleep and time to recharge is going to be your biggest competitive advantage. Sleep deprivation is costing U.S. Businesses $411 billion annually and U.K. businesses up to $50 billion annually.

Sleep deprivation is a premium cost to companies because it influences every aspect of people's lives. When it comes to sleep deprivation and the effects it has on companies, these three areas are highly affected.

1. Performance

It's impossible to perform at a high level when you're consistently getting inadequate amounts of sleep. Not getting proper levels of sleep nightly places you in a sleep debt which is your bodies way of going in the negative just as you can with your finances.

When you accumulate a sleep debt, often beginning after a few weeks of sleeping less than six hours nightly, your performance suffers. When in this state, you can expect mental, emotional, and physical fatigue which leads to decreases in output.

2. Emotional Intelligence

Having your employees operate with a high level of emotional intelligence is important because they are interacting the majority of the time with your customers.

Lack of sleep affects emotional intelligence because there is less activity going on in your prefrontal cortex. Your prefrontal cortex is where decisions and emotions are being made and expressed. Lower emotional intelligence leads to poorer relationships with your potential customers because your employees aren't able to relate and communicate as well.

3. Absenteeism and presenteeism

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), productivity losses linked to absenteeism cost employers $225.8 billion annually in the U.S.

While absenteeism often garners the spotlight, presenteeism is just as important. In fact, reports are steadily coming out that presenteeism is much costlier and prevalent than absenteeism. Presenteeism is where employees show up to work but aren't operating near their potential capacity due to illness and fatigue.

Skipping out on sleep leads to a weakened immune system, thus leaving you more prone to various illnesses along with increasing your chances for an expanded waistline.

Sleep is vital because this is when your body repairs and rebuilds itself while your brain is cleaning and removing waste from the day to allow you to cognitively perform better the next day.

When thinking about culture, engagement, emotional intelligence, and performance, it starts with a strong commitment to raising awareness for sleep.