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Worker retreats could include swimming with dolphins in Mexico. Photo: Eye Ubiquitous/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Many tech startups are choosing to keep employees working from home and are pivoting to planning several elaborate company retreats per year to allow employees to meet and bond, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.

Why it matters: For many companies, corporate retreats are becoming a necessity as they try to figure out how to maintain company culture with remote employees.

The big picture: For tech startups, the new model for these retreats means that "PowerPoint presentations in hotel conference rooms are replaced by more enjoyable endeavors: mountain biking in Colorado, swimming with dolphins in Mexico and dancing the tango in Argentina," writes the Journal.

  • The business-software company, People.ai Inc. closed its headquarters in San Francisco as well as most of its other offices, and ditched plans for a new office in London. Instead, the company's real estate budget is being fueled into several company trips, reports the Journal.
  • The startup incubator All Turtles Corp. also closed its offices in Paris, Tokyo and San Francisco and is planning "twice-yearly excursions" for all its employees.

What they're saying: “The genie is out of the bottle for remote work and if we wanted to bring everyone back to headquarters I don’t think it’s doable,” Oleg Rogynskyy, CEO of People.ai, told the Journal, adding that doing so “is how you lose your best employees.”

Of note: These sorts of retreats could cater to young, single employees.

  • Rogynskyy is considering a child-care stipend to help "support spouses and kids when employees are away and in some cases pay for families to travel along," per the Journal.

Go deeper

Updated Sep 3, 2021 - News

What Minnesota's biggest employers are offering for parental leave

Photo: Karen Bleier via Getty Images

Parental leave policies vary widely depending on which Minnesota organization you work for.

Axios Twin Cities polled some of the biggest employers in the metro's private sector to see what they offer.

  • Hint: It's good to sell Cheerios.

Why it matters: It's a job seekers' market and talented professionals planning a family will weigh the generosity of a company's parental leave policy in deciding to take a position.

Below are responses by company representatives, unless otherwise noted.

Note: If your company is missing from the list, drop us a line and we'll add it in. Some firms didn't respond or declined to respond to Axios.

3M Co. (14,065 Minnesota employees)

Mothers and fathers of newborn or newly adopted children are entitled to up to 20 weeks (10 weeks paid and 10 weeks unpaid) of parental leave in the U.S. This is a benefit that they are eligible for from the first day of employment.

Allina Health (28,751 Minnesota employees)

Allina recently announced a new paid caregiver policy that provides up to two weeks of paid time off each year for eligible staff to spend time caring for immediate family members having serious health issues or to care for and bond with a new child.

Ameriprise Financial (4,842 Minnesota employees)

Women who deliver a baby are eligible for 16 weeks of paid time off to care for their new child or children. Ameriprise offers a two-week paid parental leave to birth, adoptive and foster parents who have worked for the company for more than six months.

Best Buy Co. Inc. (9,000 Minnesota employees)

Best Buy provides up to six weeks of time off at 100% of base pay. It allows full-time benefits-eligible employees to take a leave of absence for their own medical condition, such as needing a surgery or for mental health, without an interruption in pay.

  • This is in addition to a caregiver pay benefit, which is four weeks of full pay for those who need to care for a spouse/domestic partner, parent, children under the age of 18, siblings, in-laws, grandchildren, grandparents and children 18 or older.
  • Best Buy has some other benefits, like $14,080 in adoption expense reimbursement and up to $10,000 lifetime for infertility treatments.
General Mills (3,000 Minnesota employees, per Biz Journal)

General Mills offers fully paid time off for new birth mothers for 18 to 20 weeks, and 12 weeks parental leave (for fathers, partners and adoptive parents).

Land O'Lakes (2,000 Minnesota employees)

Birth moms are eligible for a maternity leave of eight weeks, as well as four weeks of paid parental leave.

  • Four weeks of paid parental leave is also offered to all new adoptive and birth parents — a benefit that can be taken within one year of the birth or the adoption.
Medtronic (10,463 Minnesota employees)

Employees are eligible for up to 16 weeks of paid time away to care for a new child.

  • Six weeks of family leave can also be used to care for a parent, spouse, or child with a serious health condition, and for bereavement following the death of spouse/domestic partner, child or parent.
  • Birth mothers get another six to eight weeks fully paid.
  • Mothers who complete a healthy pregnancy program can get another two weeks paid.
  • Medtronic also offers reimbursement of $25,000 per child (up to $50,000) for adoption, surrogacy and third-party reproduction expenses.
Target (24,000 Minnesota employees)

Target in 2019 doubled its parental leave benefits, but did not specify how many weeks.

  • CNBC reported the new policy provides "up to four weeks paid time off annually to care for a newborn or sick family member. New moms at Target will get an additional six to eight weeks of paid maternity leave, too."
UnitedHealth Group (18,000 Minnesota employees)

UnitedHealth Group offers four weeks of paid parental leave following the birth of a child or adoption.

  • In addition, UHG offers an employer sponsored/paid short-term disability benefit, which is income replacement for maternity leave for six weeks, or eight weeks following a cesarean delivery. This benefit is 60% paid by UHG, and employees have the option to buy-up an additional 20% for an 80% benefit. This means employees can secure paid coverage for up to 10-12 weeks.
United Natural Foods Inc., including Cub Foods (8,781 Minnesota employees)

UNFI offers four weeks of paid parental leave for mothers and fathers, including adoption. It also offers one week of maternity disability leave or one week of paid adoption leave (for mothers and fathers). It offers five to seven weeks of short-term disability leave for birth mothers.

  • Of note: This is for non-union employees.
U.S. Bank (13,400 Minnesota employees)

Provides 13 weeks of paid leave (a combination of pregnancy disability leave and parental leave) to the birth parent and four weeks of paid parental leave to non-birth parents.

Wells Fargo (17,000 Minnesota employees)

Provides up to 16 weeks of paid leave for a primary caregiver, and up to four weeks for a parent who isn’t the primary caregiver, to care for a new child following birth or adoption. Eligibility begins after 12 months of service.

Xcel Energy (5,456 employees, according to the Biz Journal)

In addition to six to eight weeks of paid maternity leave, Xcel offers an additional four weeks of paid time off to help parents bond with their new child, whether through birth, adoption or fostering.

  • It also offers adoption assistance services, which reimburses employees for eligible expenses up to $2,000.

Declined: North Memorial, M Health Fairview, and Life Time Inc. declined to participate by the deadline.

  • Health Partners did not respond to Axios emails.

Of note: Axios offers 12 weeks of paid parental leave for a primary caregivers following the birth or adoption of a child. Secondary caregivers get four weeks.

Updated 42 mins ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.

1 hour ago - World

Hong Kong holds first "patriots only" elections

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a news conference last Monday. Photo: Lui Siu Wai/Xinhua via Getty Images

Hong Kong's elections to choose the city's Election Committee members opened to a select group of voters on Sunday, under a new "patriots only" system imposed by China's government.

Why it matters: All candidates running to be members of the electoral college have been "vetted" by Beijing, per Reuters. They will go on to choose the Asian financial hub's next leader, approved by China's government, and some of its legislature.