Human capital is a company's most important asset.

Author: Luca Ventura
Project Coordinator: Pham Binh

It is not exactly every little boy and girl's dream to become one day a wholesaler, but it can be a very rewarding career. How rewarding? According to a study by British research platform Small Business Prices, companies selling goods and merchandise to retailers and businesses are the most profitable in the world in terms of revenue per employee (RPE).  Human capital is a company's most important asset and wholesalers come out on top in the ranking with an average revenue figure of $6 million per employee, followed by energy and finance companies with $2 million and $1.4 million, respectively. Health care and chemicals are tied for fourth positions with $1.1 million per employee.

"Looking at the revenue produced by each employee is a good way for businesses to see how much work is not only dependent on human manpower, but also how other factors such as the use of technology come into play for speeding up processes and eliminating human activity altogether during work," says the founder of Small Business Prices, Ian Wright. "Revenue per employee also reflects the differences in how many employees each industry rely on."

Many influential companies that employ tens of thousands of people across the globe produce staggering profits and revenue each year. However, they are not necessarily the most efficient when it comes to getting the most value out of their hires. Wholesalers Rajesh Exports, based in India, and Trafigura Group, out of Singapore, might not be widely known to the general public but they certainly make a lot of money with very few employees. For each of its 383 workers Rajesh Exports, which is the world's largest exporter of gold jewelry, makes over $65 million; Trafigura Group, a trading house of raw materials such as crude oil and metals, has a workforce of 4,316 and a revenue per employee of almost $42 million.

These figures, Wright points out, are many hundreds of times greater than the revenue per employee at McDonald’s, which is $100,120. The comparison, admittedly, is unfair: it is almost a universal truth that selling gold pays more than selling hamburgers. This is why the RPE ratio is most meaningful among competitors operating in the same industry, as they face similar cost structures and tax regimes. Those who will manage to expand margins and improve profitability will thrive.

Top 30 Companies In The World By Revenue Per Employee

Rank Company Sector Country Revenue ($ Mil.) Employees Revenue per Employee ($ Mil.)
1 Rajesh Exports Wholesalers India 25,142.60 383 65.65
2 Trafigura Group Wholesalers Singapore 180,744.10 4,316 41.88
3 INTL FCStone Finance U.S. 27,622.70 1,701 16.24
4 Fannie Mae Finance U.S. 120,101.00 7,400 16.23
5 Freddie Mac Finance U.S. 73,598.00 6,621 11.12
6 Valero Energy Energy U.S. 111,407.00 10,261 10.86
7 China Development Bank Finance China 103,072.90 9,507 10.84
8 GS Caltex Energy South Korea 33,052.70 3,212 10.29
9 CNP Assurances Finane France 45,461.30 5,243 8.67
10 PBF Energy Energy U.S. 27,186.10 3,266 8.32
11 AmerisourceBergen Health Care U.S. 167,939.60 20,500 8.19
12 Phillips 66 Energy U.S. 114,217.00 14,200 8.04
13 World Fuel Services Energy U.S. 39,750.30 5,000 7.95
14 Uniper Energy Germany 92,260.80 11,828 7.80
15 Plain GP Holdings Energy U.S. 34,055.00 4,900 6.95
16 Samsung Life Insurance Finance South Korea 29,305.80 5,420 5.41
17 Enterprise Products Partners Energy U.S. 36,534.20 7,000 5.22
18 Northwestern Mutual Finance U.S. 29,124.00 5,870 4.96
19 Royal Dutch Shell Energy Netherlands 396,556.00 81,000 4.90
20 Formosa Petrochemical Energy Taiwan 25,462.80 5,285 4.82
21 Saudi Aramco Energy U.S. 355905.00 76,418 4.66
22 Energy Transfer Energy U.S. 54,436.00 11,768 4.63
23 Amer International Group Materials China 76,363.10 16,901 4.52
24 BP Energy Britain 303,738.00 73,000 4.16
25 Exxon Mobil Energy U.S. 290,212.00 71,000 4.09
26 Massacusetts Mutual Life Insurance Finance U.S. 39,267.20 9,844 3.99
27 Equinor Energy Norway 79,593.00 20,525 3.88
28 New York Life Insurance Finance U.S. 43,425.30 11,388 3.81
29 Idemitsu Kosan Energy Japan 35,091.00 9,476 3.70
30 ConocoPhillips Energy U.S. 38,727.00 10,800 3.59