Why Amdocs is embracing vacation for employees

Ultimately, this decision was about really listening to our employees, understanding and caring about what they need so we can prepare for the future, for a younger, different work force.

 A tourist rests on a beach near hotels in a tourist area in Bentota, Sri Lanka May 2, 2019. Picture take May 2, 2019.  (photo credit: REUTERS/DINUKA LIYANAWATTE)
A tourist rests on a beach near hotels in a tourist area in Bentota, Sri Lanka May 2, 2019. Picture take May 2, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS/DINUKA LIYANAWATTE)

Take more vacation and be more productive at work. Counterintuitive? Maybe at first glance. But for too long, the tech world has been a place where taking time off has been a low priority, and overwork a badge of honor. It’s not healthy for our workforce. It’s time for a shift, time for employers to encourage their employees to recharge, in any way and form that is best for them.

The world has changed dramatically over the past two years, and with it, how we work. The pandemic has blurred boundaries between work and home. People work even longer hours now that their “offices” are inside their homes, and they find it hard to switch off. As business leaders preparing for the future, we need to counterbalance this shift. It’s OK to take vacation when you need it, it’s OK to disconnect. Flexibility at work is key.

At Amdocs, we are switching to an unlimited vacation program. Not long ago this would have been unthinkable. But now, our employees get to take as much time off as they choose, in coordination with their managers. 

 High tech giant Amdocs headquarters in Raanana. (credit: FLASH90) High tech giant Amdocs headquarters in Raanana. (credit: FLASH90)

So many people have asked me: “So what’s the catch?” The fact is there is no catch. The approach is simple and powerful – we want to create the best environment for our people to thrive in. We trust them. 

We launched our “Make it Amazing” brand three months ago, primarily focused on helping our customers achieve outstanding business outcomes. We’re also directing this inward to make the employee experience amazing. 

Here’s what we know: If the job’s getting done, it doesn’t matter how many hours an employee works. It’s about being value-driven, focused on outcomes over effort and quantity. Tech employees are some of hardest working professionals. This consistent hard work must be balanced with the release that vacation offers.

We started out on this path of a flexible work-life before the pandemic, announcing in early 2020 that our employees could now work one day a week from home. Then Covid hit, and “one day” turned into “all days”, and the world of work changed forever. 

Now, moving to an unlimited vacation program wasn’t an easy decision. Managers, long used to one way of working, can be resistant to change. But it’s the right thing to do, and we’re supporting our managers with tools to help them enable their people to take more vacation while ensuring the work gets done.

Ultimately, this decision was about really listening to our employees, understanding and caring about what they need so we can prepare for the future, for a younger, different work force that prioritizes a work-life balance. According to Gallup’s bestseller, “It’s the Manager”, 53% of employees say greater work-life balance is very important to them when considering a job. If we can make the lives of our employees amazing, we should.

We didn’t invent the wheel – organizations around the world already adopted limitless vacation policies. Surprisingly, in the US, some of these companies have reported a drop in vacation utilization since the change. We will carefully monitor our employees to make sure this doesn’t happen at Amdocs. This culture shift won’t happen overnight, but to protect our employees’ healthy work-life balance and attract new young talent in an irreversibly changing work world, it’s what we need to do.  

Trusting our people to make decisions about their own work-life balance is key to this change. As a leader in the tech community, I’m committed and proud of the steps we are taking to make the lives of our people better, to give them greater flexibility to lead their lives and careers. 

As one of the largest tech employers in Israel, we’re spearheading an employee-focused journey. Flexibility is at the root of this change. For example, as part of our flexible work model, we also have flexible career development programs where our people can change their roles after a year. We give our employees the autonomy to manage their work lives because who knows better what they need than they do. 

It’s a journey towards rebalancing work and life and encouraging our people to embrace a new attitude towards taking time off.  

We listen, learn and evolve, and we’re getting ready for the future. 

The writer is head of Amdocs People, responsible for Amdocs’ global HR division.