Help! My boss is unhappy because I am a permanent employee

Wednesday March 18 2020

It is always better to discuss your concerns with your supervisor before you escalate to HR. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Q: I work for a company that rarely employs anyone on permanent basis. But last year, because of my exemplary work, I was promoted to a permanent position. My boss didn't welcome the move, as she is still employed on contract. Now my relationship with her has become thorny, and I'm even planning to quit. I have reported the issue to HR, but no action has been taken yet. What more can I do?

The term permanent employment is a myth. Gone are the days when those employed on permanent and pensionable terms would sit back and wait for the farewell funfair at their retirement parties.

More organisations are adopting the performance-based contracting, whereby employees’ contracts are renewed based on need, input and performance.

Indeed, some managers are placed on such contracts, so this could be the approach your organisation has adopted.

In some professions, placing workers on permanent terms has simply become too expensive. Individuals with rare and sought after skills are increasingly asking for contracts that bear a time limit, scope of their responsibilities, and of course, the level of compensation.

This allows them to work on multiple projects for different organisations, and still earn their income at the end of the month.



Psychologically, being a permanent employee gives one a sense of security. But the reality is that there is a termination clause which can be invoked at any time.

The focus should be on one’s performance, since no employment position lasts forever. What makes you think that your boss is unhappy about your employment terms?

I assume that she was consulted, and might even have recommended you for the position. What makes you think she is unhappy with you?

Could it be that you’ve grown complacent since you were recognised for good performance? The reason HR is not following up is because you did not present any specific grievances.


Be true to yourself, and list down the specific concerns you have. It is always better to discuss your concerns with your supervisor before you escalate to HR.

This way, you build trust and respect, which will foster a good working relationship. Remember that it is your performance that will keep you in the organisation, and not your permanent tenure.

Also, remember that your manager still has a strong influence over your career. Leaving is an option, but not a solution. In fact, you might encounter an even more difficult situation if you do. Make your choice.

Jane Muiruri - Senior HR Manager, Nation Media Group; [email protected]