Hire and Retain: How Diamond Z is building a best-in-class employee engagement strategy 

By Brandon Simpson


It’s no secret that the labor market has been, at best, unpredictable since the pandemic.  

I became general manager at Diamond Z, the leading manufacturer of mobile and portable grinders, in the summer of 2020 and have seen firsthand how difficult it is to hire and retain since the start of Covid. 

Despite the widespread challenges, our team has not only grown, but our turnover is the lowest it’s been in years—down 45 percent from December 2020—and our productivity has increased dramatically. In fact, thanks to our powerhouse team, we’re putting out more product now than we ever have in company history.  

We’re hitting our stride, and I believe that’s due to a few key steps we’ve taken as a company to level-up our employee engagement. 

We’re going big on employee appreciation. 

Through several employee experience efforts, both big and small, we’re committed to showing our team we care. Of course, competitive pay is a huge part of that, and we’re focused on that too. We do regular increases based on merit and quarterly wage reviews, making sure we remain competitive to what others in the Treasure Valley are offering and adjusting employee compensation as necessary. But we also took a hard look at our benefits, increased our PTO and began offering extra holidays.  

We’ve sprinkled in some fun, too, by planning annual holiday parties and cornhole tournaments for our team and their families. And we’re offering regular small gestures of appreciation, like food trucks, donuts, and personalized birthday gifts. These simple acts of gratitude have gone a long way. 

We’re constantly seeking alignment. 

As a former high school football and baseball coach, I’ve witnessed the power of alignment. When a team is focused on and working toward the same goal, that goal becomes much easier to achieve.  

At Diamond Z, we hold our mission, vision, and values dear, and we build buy-in around those ideas by embodying them at the management level and by showing our employees the many ways in which they contribute to the bigger picture. We want them to see and feel the power of teamwork.  

We’re asking for feedback.  

We know we still have room to grow, and we want our team to feel heard on any issues they would like addressed. Our anonymous employee engagement survey has resulted in invaluable feedback from our employees, with suggestions on how to improve and appreciation for the steps we’ve taken already. And our Employee Council, made up of non-management employees from all areas of our company, meets monthly to share concerns and ideas with leadership.  

We also have an open-door policy and are always in conversation to create and maintain a culture of candor.  

These simple strategies have made a big difference for us, and there’s more to be done. We won’t take our foot off the gas pedal. 

Brandon Simpson is the general manager of Diamond Z, a pioneer in the wood grinding industry since 1988. Diamond Zhas established a global reputation for manufacturing the highest quality, most durable, easy-to-service, and most productive industrial grinders available.