Labor Turnover

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Labor Turnover


one aspect of the movement of labor resources, consisting of individual, nonorganized moves of workers from one enterprise (organization) to another.

In the USSR, enterprises report statistics that reflect labor turnover, namely, the number of resignations and the number of dismissals for absenteeism and other breaches of labor discipline. The total resignations and dismissals as a percent of the average number of workers employed over a certain period of time—that is, the index of labor turnover—serves as an indicator of the intensity of labor turnover.

In each individual enterprise, labor turnover stems from the interaction of many factors, both subjective and objective, including factors pertaining to the economy as a whole, regional factors, and the factors specific to the given industry or plant. To a considerable extent, it results from inefficient organization of production, labor, and management. During the formative period of the socialist economy, high labor turnover was the rule. In the early 1930’s, the index of labor turnover in industry was as high as 100 percent. With improvement in production, labor, and living conditions, the composition of personnel at socialist enterprises has grown more stable. During the ninth five-year plan (1971–75), the index of labor turnover was approximately 20 percent among workers in industry and approximately 27 percent among workers in construction.

The socioeconomic consequences of labor turnover are by no means unambiguous. For some workers, a change of work undertaken on one’s personal initiative can bring positive social or economic results, and personal needs can be satisfied in more attractive work, higher wages, and better working and living conditions. To a certain extent, such nonorganized worker turnover is consistent with the needs of the national economy with respect to the redistribution of labor resources by region, industry, and enterprise.

At the same time, however, labor turnover can lead to significant losses, both for individual workers and for enterprises and the national economy as a whole. The worker who changes jobs loses part of his wages, and his acquisition of higher qualifications is set back. For the enterprise, unforeseen resignations and dismissals bring less efficient utilization of equipment, disrupts the rhythm of production, and necessitates the hiring of additional workers and the expenditure of funds for additional job training. For the national economy, the most deleterious effect of labor turnover is the loss to the society’s stock of labor time, since the large number of workers who change their place of work temporarily take no part in production.

With high employment among the able-bodied population and with decreased natural increases in labor resources, a reduction in labor turnover is an important internal source of labor and an essential precondition for raising the qualifications of the labor force, improving the quality of production, and assuring even tempos of operation on the part of enterprises. Various studies of the causes of labor turnover and of the workers who have changed jobs have provided the basis on which enterprises have drawn up programs for the reduction of labor turnover. Such programs make use of various measures—technical, organizational, socioeconomic, and ideological—all of which help to eliminate or minimize the effect of factors that lead to worker resignations and dismissals. Improved planning of labor utilization, the expansion of organized redistribution of the labor force, and the growth and improvement of placement services have also reduced the losses stemming from labor turnover.

In the foreign socialist countries, relatively fewer workers change work on their own initiative. In these countries as well, however, stabilization of production collectives is regarded as a pressing socioeconomic problem.


Dvizhenie rabochikh kadrov v promyshlennosti. Edited by L. M. Danilov. Moscow, 1973.
Dvizhenie rabochikh kadrov na promyshlennykh predpriiatiiakh. Edited by E. G. Antosenkov. Moscow, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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