Top Ten Companies with Biggest Workforce in the World

By Walmart Corporate from Bentonville, USA (Walmart store exterior) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

According to the World Economic Forum, the largest employers in the world are not companies, but rather countries (or more specifically, militaries), with the United States Department of Defense and China’s People’s Liberation Army employing a massive 3.2 and 2.3 million people respectively.

Despite this sobering reality, there are millions of workers across the globe that are employed by far less threatening entities, with private sector corporations leading the charge. Following our list of the world’s largest companies by revenue, we have decided to look into companies that have emerged as the biggest job creators on the planet.

As such, here is the list of the top 10 largest companies in the world (by number of employees, 2016):

10. Deutsche Post

Country of Origin: Germany

Industry: Postal services

Number of Employees: 488,824

Deutsche Post is reputed as the world’s largest courier company with more than 488,000 employees across the globe and generating revenue of €56.63 billion as at 2014. Its corporate divisions include:

  • Mail services: delivers an average of 70 million mails in Germany alone and operates in about 200 countries
  • Express: operates under the DHL brand and offers courier, express and parcel shipments services across the globe
  • Forwarding: operates under the DHL brand and performs similar services as the Express division
  • Supply Chain or Corporate Information: logistics and corporate information.

9. China Construction Bank

Country of Origin: China

Industry: Banking, Financial Services

Number of Employees: 493,583

China Construction Company is among the 4 largest banks in China and the second largest in the world in terms of market capitalization. The company has more than 13,600 branches in China alone and also operates branches in major cities of the world such as Barcelona, Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York City.

8. Agricultural Bank of China

Country of Origin: China

Industry: Banking, Financial Services

Number of Employees: 493,583

Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) Ltd is one of the largest banks in China with about 24,000 branches in major cities in the world such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, London and New York. The company conducted its initial public offering (IPO) in 2010 in what became the world’s largest IPO only recently surpassed by that of Alibaba.

With regards the bank’s relations with its employees, a study conducted by Cao Bin and Suriyan Nontasak in 2012 titled “Employee Satisfaction in the Agricultural Bank of China in Tengzhou City, China” showed that its employees were only “moderately satisfied” with the bank as they advocated to be more involved in its operations.

7. Tesco

Country of Origin: England

Industry: Retail

Number of Employees: 510,444

Founded 97 years ago by Jack Cohen as a small grocery stall in Hackney, East London, Tesco has evolved to become one of the world’s largest retailer in terms of revenue and the 7th largest when ranked by number of employees. From its base in Hertfordshire, Tesco now operates as a multinational firm with over 2,500 stores globally. This rapid expansion can be largely attributed to an aggressive diversification strategy that saw the company venture into other segments of retailing such as clothing, electronics, furniture, financial services, telecoms and internet services.

6. Compass Group

Country of Origin: England

Industry: Foodservice

Number of Employees: 514,718

Britain-based Compass Group is a leading multinational contract food catering company with a presence in more than 50 countries. The company also operates facility management, cleaning and support services. Being a food contract company with minimal investment in physical assets, the company’s major expenses goes to the payment of the salaries of its almost 515,000 employees.

5. Petro China

Country of Origin: China

Industry: Oil and Gas

Number of Employees: 534,652

Founded by National Petroleum Corporation in 1999, Petro China is today one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world with about $367 billion in revenue. As a leading player in China’s oil and gas industry, the firm’s activities cut across all segments of oil production: from exploration to production of oil, gas, and petroleum products. As such, it ranks as the 5th largest company in the world based on the number of employees as it boasts 534,652 workers on its payroll.

The fall in global oil prices has raised fears that Petro China’s employees could lose their jobs en masse as a result of substantial cost cutting already taking place in Western oil companies. However, in order to prevent widespread protest while also staying true to its philosophy of using state-owned enterprises as “policy instruments,” the Chinese government has ordered oil companies not to lay off workers but find other means of cutting cost.

4. Yum! Brands

Country of Origin: United States

Industry: Restaurants

Number of Employees: 537,000

Yum! Brands is an American multinational fast food company with over 42,000 restaurants in over 130 countries. The company has largely ventured into international markets through its licensing and franchising policy of top brands such as KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

In a move to increase profitability amidst a changing industry landscape characterized by dwindling earnings, the company has plans to depend almost solely on franchise and license fees. As such, almost 98% of its restaurants will operate under franchise arrangements by the close of 2018.

Yum! Brands is also well known for its amiable relationship with its employees. Former CEO David Novak was known for awarding outstanding employee performances and for instituting a culture of recognition.

3. Volkswagen

Country of Origin: Germany

Industry: Automotive

Number of Employees: 592, 586

Founded in 1937 by the German Labour Front with a vision to manufacture low-cost vehicles, Volkswagen has evolved to become the largest automaker in the world today. Over the years, the company has expanded its international footprint by setting up manufacturing and assembling plants in European and Asian countries.

As a result of German laws that encourage cooperation between labour unions and employers, Volkswagen has developed a long history of cordial relationships with it workers. This has led some to advocate for the adoption of the Volkswagen model of employee relations by American companies.

2. Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd

Country of Origin: Taiwan

Industry: Electronics manufacturing

Number of Employees: 1.29 million

Hon Hai Precision Industry (which trades as Foxconn Technology Group) is a Taiwan-based multinational company reputed as the largest electronics contract manufacturing company in the world. As a contract manufacturer, the company produces products on behalf of top electronics companies and is known as the primary contractor for the iPhone production.

As the second largest company in the world by number of employees with 1.29 million workers, most of whom are based in China, the company has come under fire for the poor working conditions of its workers, many of whom have committed suicide as a result.

1. Wal-Mart

Country of Origin: United States

Industry: Retail

Number of Employees: 2.2 million

From its modest beginning as a small grocery store founded by Sam Walton in the 1960s, Wal-Mart has grown to become the largest retail company in the world with 11,500 hypermarkets, discount departments, and grocery stores across 28 countries. It also ranks as the largest company in the world based on revenue, earning $485.65 billion in 2015. Wal-Mart is also the world’s largest employer, employing a mind-boggling 2.2 million workers globally.

In recent years, Wal-Mart has faced criticism for its low wages and poor working conditions, and has responded by increasing its minimum wage from $9 to $10 per hour.