The world's 30 biggest employers
The largest workforces on the planet
Wonder which organisations boast the most employees? From the number one supermarket in the USA to the UK's National Health Service and India's sprawling state railway company, we reveal the world's 30 biggest employers.
30. Jardine Matheson: 430,000 employees
This vast British conglomerate, which is based in Hong Kong, has a wealth of business interests, primarily in Asia, and a total of 430,000 staff. Jardine Matheson's many subsidiaries include the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, car dealership Jardine Motors and Dairy Farm, a pan-Asian retailer that operates stores on behalf of IKEA, 7-Eleven, and more.
29. Egyptian Armed Forces: 438,500 employees
One of the largest military forces on the planet, the Egyptian Armed Forces consist of the country's Army, Navy, Air Force and Air Defence Command. The military, which is currently battling an insurgency on the Sinai Peninsula, counts a total of 438,500 active personnel, including around 300,000 conscripts.
28. Kroger: 443,000 employees
Kroger is America's largest supermarket chain and the third-largest retailer in the country after Walmart and Costco. The Cincinnati-headquartered chain operates 2,778 supermarkets and multi-department stores, 786 convenience stores and 326 jewellery boutiques in 34 states, but has zero international presence, making it largely unknown outside of the USA.
27. Aviation Industry Corp. of China: 457,097 employees
This massive state-owned aerospace and defence company develops aviation technology for China's military, as well as aircraft and components for the commercial and overseas markets. In fact, AVIC plays a key role in the global aviation industry, supplying parts to the likes of Boeing, Airbus and GE.
26. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China: 461,749 employees
One of China's 'Big Four' government-owned banks, ICBC is the world's largest bank and public company in terms of assets. The bank, which has a workforce of 461,749, boasts 5.8 million corporate customers and 530 million personal customers worldwide, and owns several foreign banks, including Standard Bank Argentina and Turkey's TekstilBank.
25. China Mobile Communications: 463,712 employees
Another Chinese state-owned enterprise with an enormous workforce, China Mobile Communications is the country's premier telecoms firm and the largest mobile phone operator on the globe. All in the all, the company, which dominates the domestic market, has a total of 859.9 million paying subscribers.
24. Gazprom: 467,400 employees
The gargantuan energy company, which is majority-owned by the Russian state, controls the world's largest reserves of natural gas and holds a near-monopoly of exports of the commodity. The country's chief employer, Gazprom has a strong international presence to boot and additional interests in media, aviation and finance.
23. People's Army of Vietnam: 482,000 employees
A regional force to be reckoned with, the People's Army of Vietnam has 482,000 active personnel and a staggering three million reservists. The army recently underwent extensive modernisation to counter the threat posed by China in the South China Sea and now boasts some of the most sophisticated military hardware in the region.
22. Agricultural Bank of China: 501,368 employees
The Agricultural Bank of China is another of the country's 'Big Four' state-owned banks. The bank, which has a total of 2.7 million business clients and 320 million personal account holders, issued its first IPO in 2010, the world's biggest at the time, and has offshoots in locations worldwide, from New York to Tokyo.
21. Deutsche Post DHL Group: 510,000 employees
Europe's largest postal and international courier service has over half a million employees. The company's postal operation delivers 59 million letters a day in Germany, and its shipping carrier DHL is one of the world's biggest, and the main global competitor of America's UPS and FedEx.
20. Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran: 523,000 employees
Iran's armed forces include the Islamic Republic's Army, the much-feared Revolutionary Guard Corps and the equally formidable Law Enforcement Force, the country's police. According to the experts, the Iranian military lacks state-of-the-art equipment but remains one of the strongest forces in the region.
19. Compass Group: 527,180 employees
One of the biggest private sector employers in the world you've never heard of, the UK's Compass Group is the largest food service company on the planet. The firm, which operates in over 50 countries worldwide, provides catering for everything from schools and hospitals to prisons, and serves billions of meals a year.
18. Republic of Korea Armed Forces: 625,000 employees
South Korea's armed forces total 625,000 active personnel, and over three million reserve troops. Given the hostile stance of its troublesome neighbour, North Korea, the country has developed extra-robust defences and enjoys access to the latest military equipment courtesy of the USA, its key ally.
17. United States Postal Service: 625,113 employees
The United States Postal Service is the world's second largest with a workforce of 625,113. An independent agency of the federal government mandated by the Constitution, the service is legally required to deliver mail at uniform cost and quality to all Americans, no matter where they live in the country.
16. Volkswagen: 626,715 employees
The world's second-biggest automaker and the largest in Europe, Germany's Volkswagen has factories in scores of countries around the globe, including the US, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa, and a total of 626,715 employees on its books, eclipsing the workforces of rival automakers, and then some.
15. Pakistan Armed Forces: 643,800 employees
Pakistan's Armed Forces number 643,800 active personnel, and the military can call up over half a million reservists if need be. The country's Army, Navy, Air Force and the SD Force comprise one of the most respected forces in the world, and Pakistan has more UN peacekeeping troops deployed overseas than any other country.
14. Sinopec Group: 713,288 employees
This Chinese government-owned enterprise is the largest oil refining and petrochemical business in Asia, and one of the biggest companies in the world based on revenue. The firm, which has its headquarters in Beijing, is involved with oil and gas exploration and refining, and produces a host of petroleum-based products.
13. State Grid Corporation of China: 926,067 employees
Bearing in mind China's huge population, it's no wonder so many of the country's state-owned monoliths appear in this round-up. The world's largest utility company, China's State Grid Corporation, which benefits from a monopoly of the power industry in the People's Republic, has 926,067 staff and a mind-boggling 1.1 billion customers.
12. China Post: 941,211 employees
The biggest postal service on the planet, China Post has a total of 941,211 employees. The company oversees the nation's post offices, stamp production, and so on, and boasts some of the world's largest sorting offices, as well as a huge fleet of postal delivery vehicles, postal trains and aircraft.
11. Armed Forces of the Russian Federation: 1 million employees
Russia's armed forces include the country's Ground Forces, Aerospace Forces, Navy, Strategic Missile Troop, and Airborne Divisions, as well as its Special Ops Forces. The number of active and reserve servicemen and women is set in stone by a Presidential decree, which is currently at a million active troops and up to a whopping 20 million reservists.
10. Korean People's Army: 1.2 million employees
North Korea's armed forces comprise 1.2 million active personnel and millions of reservists, who are constantly on a war footing. While many of its citizens go hungry, the repressive rogue state ranks number one in the world for military spending relative to GDP, channelling a significant proportion of the budget into its infamous nuclear programme.
9. Foxconn: 1.2 million employees
The Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry Company, which is better-known as Foxconn, is China's biggest private employee. The contract manufacturer, which has attracted criticism for its work practices, produces tech on behalf of Apple, Samsung, and more. And while it has began to replace its human workforce with robots, the firm still counts 1.2 million employees.
8. United Kingdom National Health Service: 1.3 million employees
The world's largest and oldest public healthcare system is renowned for being one of the planet's biggest employers. According to NHS figures, the workforce totals 1.3 million employees, but other estimates, which include temp and freelance staff, put the number closer to 1.6 million.
7. Indian Railways: 1.4 million employees
Famed for its punctuality and bewildering scale, India's state-owned railway network has around 1.4 million staff on its books. The massively extensive network, which operates both suburban and long-distance services, covers hundreds of thousands of miles in the country and carries a jaw-dropping 8.1 billion passengers a year.
6. Indian Armed Forces: 1.4 million employees
India's Armed Forces, comprising the country's Army, Navy and Air Force, have just over 1.4 million active personnel and 1.2 million reserve troops. As a nuclear and key regional power, India is a big spender on foreign weaponry, and the country was the largest importer of defence equipment in 2014.
5. McDonald's: 1.5 million employees
Counting the fast food company's many franchises, McDonald's global workforce consists of around 1.5 million employees worldwide, making it the world's second-largest private employer. The hamburger chain has a presence in over 100 countries and serves an impressive 69 million diners a day.
4. China National Petroleum Corporation: 1.5 million employees
Along with the Sinopec Group, China's National Petroleum Corporation has a monopoly on oil and gas production in the country. The colossal company, which has a workforce of 1.5 million, also operates rigs and refineries in 30 countries around the world, including Canada, Venezuela, Iran and Azerbaijan.
3. Walmart: 2.3 million employees
The largest private sector employer in the world, Walmart has 2.3 million staff in the US and selected countries worldwide. The family-owned retail giant is also the planet's biggest company based on revenue, with an annual turnover of $480 billion (£361.8bn), and includes several major subsidiaries, including the UK's Asda chain of supermarkets and South Africa's Massmart.
2. People's Liberation Army: 2.35 million employees
China's armed forces are the second-biggest in the world with 2.35 million active personnel and a similar number of reservists. The People's Liberation Army (PLA), which comprises the nation's Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force, is the planet's largest-growing force to boot, and has undergone rapid modernisation in recent years.
1. United States Department of Defense: 2.87 million employees
The world's number one employer, the United States Department of Defense has a total of 2.87 million active servicemen and women. As well as boasting the largest number of staff of any military force, the United States military also enjoys the biggest defence budget on the globe, which hit $534.3 billion (£402.9bn) in 2016.