The United States is arguably the most entrepreneurial country in the world. According to a report by KPMG, it's home to $28 billion of the total $49 billion invested globally in the first quarter of 2018.

While it's easy to see such evidence and assume our style of doing business doesn't need much improvement, there are always ways to grow and learn from other cultures or countries.

This is especially true as information about international business practices has become more accessible via the internet. Certain cultural norms succeed in business for good reasons, and are often not popular in the U.S. more because of historical tendencies than because of innate effectiveness.

Here are four top business practices from other cultures that you can incorporate to help boost your business:

Take longer lunch breaks, like in Spain or Brazil.

In Spain and Brazil, lunch breaks are very common -- even mandatory -- and are often longer than an hour, according to colleagues and friends from those countries.

Promoting a socializing lunch break in your office will allow employees to connect with their coworkers and relax a moment from the craziness of work. While you don't need a full two hour siesta (like is common in Spain) to head home and relax -- you can encourage everyone to go out to eat together.

Creating a better work-life balance during office hours has been shown to make employees more productive, increase social synergies -- and forge a more appealing environment for new talent as well as free-up the mind for the creatives.

It'll also allow you to get to know your employees better. Even an hour twice a week for lunch gives you quality time with your team. This demonstrates that you care about them, and it teaches you more about them -- which you can use to be a better manager.

Plato said "You learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a lifetime of conversation." Your lunch breaks may let you know if this adage still holds true today.

Promote more women -- like our Russian business friends do.

2017 statistics show that 47 percent of senior management executives in Russia are female -- compared to just 23 percent in North America.

Although the gender gap has been shrinking in the US in recent years, the 23 percent figure is a strong indicator of the lack of female voices at many companies.

Making it a priority to hire more qualified women will add diversity of thought to your business, and may make you more appealing to socially conscious job-lookers.

Incorporate child care and paid leave -- like Estonia.

According data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the U.S. ranks last when it comes to paid parental leave policies.

Estonia, on the other hand, gives parents up to 87 weeks of paid leave after they have a child, along with many other positive policies.

Just because the U.S. government doesn't require paid leave -- yet -- it doesn't mean you have to follow suit. Offering this benefit can improve employee retention -- especially among women. Research by the Institute for Women's Policy Research shows women are more likely to return to their job the longer their paid maternity leave lasts. Plus, thoughtful parental leave policies can set you apart from your competitors.

In a broader view, offering paid leave increases long-term human capital development. The early stages of children's lives are critical for success later in life. Ensuring that kids are properly cared for during this time is key for a lifetime of well-being. Investing in children is a net positive for society -- and may even feed back into your own talent pool someday.

Support healthy employees -- like the UK.

In the UK, everyone is a part of the national health system, eliminating many issues around well-being. According to an 8-year study in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, British national healthcare brought "larger absolute improvements" in both the "least-deprived" and "most-deprived" neighborhoods in the country.

Although you may not always think about it, supporting your workers with their health displays a deep level of care for them. Help employees sign up for insurance. Cover it if you can. Offer gym credits. Keep healthy office food available.

Implementing these cultural business practices ultimately does a few things. Number one - it sets you apart from competitors. Number two - it makes everyone much more healthy.

Because they have insurance, longer lunch breaks, or paid parental leave, employee quality of life improves. These healthier workers have greater potential to bring more energy to work each day and stay with the company for longer. Employees that eat well and exercise are more productive -- ultimately saving you time and money, which can only help your company's bottom line.

Published on: Sep 25, 2018
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