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Cake Day – A Recipe for Employee Engagement


How to bake a D2L Cake

Cake is kind of a big deal at D2L. Ever since I started in 2012 and for several years before, a cake would miraculously appear on each floor every month and employees would quickly flock to the coffee bars to get their sugar fix and chat with coworkers. It’s been so closely linked to our culture that employees have even listed it as one of the things they love most about working here. Although it was originally intended to celebrate employees’ birthdays, as we grew over the years many employees weren’t aware of the origin or the meaning; it was just “free food”. What was once an employee recognition initiative had lost its meaning and had turned into a missed opportunity.

Prep Work

Most of what we do at D2L involves constant learning and iterating. We always look for innovative ways to ensure that we’re making the most impact and employee recognition is no exception. Given that Cake Day had lost its meaning, we needed to tie cake day to something more compelling. What better to celebrate than employee anniversaries or, as we call them, “D2L-iversaries”.

As part of our relaunch, our monthly cake day now falls on the 1st Monday of each month (this means employees always know when they can expect to enjoy a sweet treat). It’s an opportunity for individuals and teams to take a quick break and recognize their colleague’s passion and contributions.

Ingredients and Directions

We post a list of employee names, their years of service and a flag that indicates which location/regional office they work at on our TV’s, Spark (our corporate LMS running on our Brightspace platform), Slack and send email communication and reminders to managers.  We proactively encourage teams and leaders to really use this as an opportunity to celebrate that individual and their tenure with D2L. It’s great because you’ll get employees from other teams sending you a message or colleagues you’re teaming up with on a project congratulate you. As part of our Site Leader program we’ve also supported our other office locations in organizing their own on-site cake days so that all of our employees can celebrate their accomplishments.

Decorate and Serve

This is just one of the small ways that we celebrate employee recognition at D2L and is a great example of the importance of ensuring that just because you’ve done something, doesn’t mean that it’s getting the most impact. It’s all about finding something that employees appreciate and ensuring you are continually listening to feedback. It’s easy to say “this is the way we’ve always done it”, but when you started an activity when you are 20 employees, and have scaled it to almost 800, sometimes you need to rethink your recipe in order to change the outcome.

Special thanks to D2Ler and cake extraordinaire, Robin Carey who is behind the delicious cakes that all of our HQ employees get to enjoy. She currently works in our Finance department and started at D2L in 2006.

Are you a missing ingredient in our culture recipe? Apply on our jobs board so you can have your cake and eat it too!

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