Asset-Building Strategies for Businesses

You can play an essential role in asset building by being a good role model, supporting your employees who have children and letting young people know that they are valued members of the community. Here are a few tips on how you as a business person can help youth to build Developmental Assets™.

  • Post the list of 40 Developmental Assets at your business and make asset materials available to your employees.
  • Invite STEPS to host a table of information for your employee to visit during their coffee breaks and lunch hours.
  • If you advertise, consider using part of your advertising space to celebrate children, youth, and asset building.
  • Support your community’s asset-building efforts by getting involved or donating something from your business that would be of use for the leaders of these groups or as prizes for a community event.  Volunteer for your community’s efforts or encourage your employees to do the same.
  • Offer internships or job shadowing for youth with concrete learning opportunities, good supervision, and plenty of support and guidance.

For Business People who are Merchants:

  • Treat all customers with respect. Children and youth sometimes say that merchants avoid them and don’t take them seriously as customers. But kids can be very savvy about where they spend their money. If they think you don’t like them, they probably won’t frequent your store.
  • Learn the names of repeat customers of all ages
  • If you have a parking lot for your store, designate some front spots for pregnant mothers and for people with small children.
  • Place information about the Developmental Assets into bags with receipts or print it on the bags.
  • Donate unsold items to a local shelter, free store, or other organizations that serves children.

For Businesses Who Employ Youth:

Bring out the best in the young people who work with you by doing things to build assets. Building assets in the youth you employ not only gives them essential skills but also makes them well-rounded, competent people. You benefit by having healthy, responsible workers. Here are some ways to build assets in your employees.

  • Learn the names of young people who work with you and greet them by name when you see them.
  • Encourage the development of basic skills, such as writing, reading, mathematics, science, technology, and communication. Show how these skills are important in your business or organization.
  • Take a personal interest in your young employees. Share with them your personal interests. Ask about theirs.
  • If you have teenage employees, treat them as you do your adult employees. Have clear guidelines and expectations for professional behavior and give them support and encouragement to do their best.
  • Tell young people what you expect them to do and how you expect them to act when they are working. When they act inappropriately or make mistakes, correct them gently while showing them appropriate alternatives for the future.
  • Give young employees a lot of feedback. When you are not satisfied with their work, let them know how they can improve. Be sincere in your praise when young people have worked hard to earn it.
  • Point out the positive values that your business or organization believes in. Explain why these values are important to you.
  • Provide adequate support for employees. This includes orientation, training, supervision, criticism, and praise. For many young people, the job with your business or organization is their first work experience. Many do not know what to expect. Give them the big picture about what your business does as well as the details of their jobs.
  • Use the “sandwich” model when you have a problem with an employee: First praise, then talk about the problem, then praise again.
  • Offer young people opportunities for advancing within the company as appropriate.
  • Be clear about how young people can spend their time when work is slow. Let them know if it is OK to do their homework during these times.
  • Invite young people to conferences, workshops, or seminars. Explain why these continuing education opportunities are valuable.
  • Most young people have a strong desire to please the adults around them. Don’t exploit this. Teach young people how to take personal pride in their work.
  • Refer to the list of 40 Developmental Assets often. Think of creative ways to build these assets for and with young people.
  • Acknowledge major accomplishments and milestones in young employees’ lives, such as graduation, or academic or sports achievement.
  • Create schedules that allow young people adequate time to do their schoolwork and participate in other activities. Studies show that young people are most successful when they work 15 or fewer hours per week during the school year.


This handout may be reproduced for educational, noncommercial uses only. From Toolkit for Integrating Developmental Assets in Your Congregation. From Toolkit for Integrating Developmental Assets in Your Congregation. Copyright © 2005 by Search Institute, 615 First Avenue NE, Suite 125, Minneapolis, MN 55413-2211; 800-888-7828; All Rights Reserved.