Boot-camps and breaking down barriers – with CIRA

Fun, food, and fitness – find out how CIRA boosted employee engagement rates by 22 per cent in just one year.

In just one year, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) boosted employee engagement rates by a full 22 per cent – but how did they do it? HRM Online spoke to VP of Corporate Services, Paul Havey, to find out.

CIRA’s success can’t be pinned on just one thing, says Havey; “It’s the combination of all our policies, programs, and benefits together.”

Havey’s HR team encourages a positive company culture based on three main themes – food, fitness and fun. All of which, he says, help break down a multitude of barriers in the workplace.


Fitness in the workplace has been a hot topic for the last year and, as more and more companies offer incentives, it becomes difficult to do something a little different.

CIRA, on the other hand, got creative – with a “corporate boot-camp.”

Although Havey admitted levels of participation were largely weather dependant, he said the tough, army-style boot-camp was actually popular among many staff – “It’s one of the only activities that CIRA has where we’ve been able to get all the senior leadership team in at once,” he revealed. 

“It can be very good for staff to see the senior team not being able to do a push-up or push a tyre,” he joked.

“But it’s less about the fitness and more about breaking down barriers within the team,” explained the VP. “Now, we have people who come up and interact directly with people they wouldn’t have before.  It’s very effective at breaking barriers.”


On the opposite end of the spectrum, CIRA’s company culture is also fairly food-centric, says Havey. “A huge part of CIRA culture is food,” he admitted.

CIRA employees can expect everything from staff lunches and get-togethers after work to fund-raiser barbeques and Friday afternoon gatherings.

“We have this massive camaraderie about food and that natural camaraderie of our company really manifests itself in all of the activities that occur here,” revealed Havey. 


CIRA also encourages employees to take time for themselves – and others. The company supports community involvement with fundraising activities such as Ride the Rideau and Movember as well as offering staff time allowances for volunteering.

“We’ve gone to great lengths to engage the full employee group,” Havey told HRM, “including the senior leadership team and the middle management team.”

 “We actively listen to our employees,” he said. “We take their concerns, their feedback, their suggestions, and their questions seriously.”

 It seems CIRA's three pronged approach to company culture is certainly keeping employees more than happy.

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