Special Report

15 Biggest Employers in the World

5. PetroChina Co. Ltd.
> Total employees: 544,083
> Revenue: $373.0 billion
> Country: China
> Industry: Oil & gas

PetroChina was founded in 1999 after the restructuring of China National Petroleum Corporation, a state-owned entity that still owns more than 86% of PetroChina. Today, PetroChina is one of the world’s largest companies by market capitalization. It is also China’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. Last year, the company’s output from production included 932.9 million barrels of oil, as well as 2.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Nearly half of its employees work in exploration and production, while the rest are responsible for marketing, refining, research, and other operations.

4. Volkswagen AG
> Total employees: 555,097
> Revenue: $271.3 billion
> Country: Germany
> Industry: Manufacturing

Volkswagen, one of the world’s top car manufacturers, built more than 9.7 million cars in 2013. Auto manufacturing is a labor intensive business. Rival Toyota Motors had 338,875 full-time equivalent employees at the end of last year, while General Motors’ headcount was roughly 219,000. However, no automaker had more employees than Volkswagen, with 545,596 active workers, and 9,501 workers in the passive phase of their partial retirement. Historically, the company’s management has viewed worker input as critical, and the company’s works council wields considerable influence. The works council forced management to dismiss its consultants out of concern that efforts to cut costs would disproportionately center around eliminating jobs.

3. Randstad Holding NV
> Total employees: 595,730
> Revenue: $22.8 billion
> Country: The Netherlands
> Industry: Human resources

Randstad is a multinational human resource company. While Randstad has just 28,030 corporate employees in 3,161 branches, a small number relative to others on the list, these employees helped place an average over 567,000 employees in various positions as of 2013. In many cases, the company takes responsibility for recruiting, interviewing, and testing the candidates that it places. Randstad’s services also extend to administering payroll and medical insurance services for client companies.

2.G4S plc
> Total employees: 618,000
> Revenue: $12.3 billion
> Country: United Kingdom
> Industry: Security services

G4S is the world’s largest security company, with operations in 120 countries worldwide. Last year, the company had over 7.4 billion pounds, or over $12 billion, in revenue. Underpinning G4S’s recent growth is its continued development in emerging markets, where revenue growth was 16%. Operating in the generally labor intensive security services industry, G4S is the largest publicly-traded employer in Europe, and the second-largest worldwide. Secure solutions, accounting for 75% of G4S’s revenue, includes risk management consulting, monitoring of security systems, and manned security services. Additionally, the company’s cash solutions services include the transportation of cash using trained personnel.

1. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
> Total employees: 2,200,000
> Revenue: $476.3 billion
> Country: United States
> Industry: Retail

Wal-Mart Stores is the world’s largest employer. The retailer operates Walmart, Sam’s Club, and other chains, which together employ some 2.2 million people globally. Of that total, roughly 1.4 million were employed in the U.S. alone at the end of the company’s fiscal year. This accounted for notable share of the U.S. labor force, which totaled slightly more than 156 million people as of July. Outside the U.S., the retailer employs more than 200,000 people in Mexico, and nearly 170,000 at its Asda chain in the U.K. However, the company has also inspired fierce debate over its labor practices, with some claiming that Wal-Mart’s pay is too low to constitute a livable wage, and others arguing that Wal-Mart provides jobs to low-skilled workers with few options.