10 Biggest Employers in Australia

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In continuation of our series of blogs on Australian businesses and entrepreneurial ventures, this blog is dedicated to providing you with the Biggest Australian companies based on their employee’s strengths or the Biggest Employers in Australia.

We’ve compiled this list of the 10 biggest employers in Australia based entirely on their employee strength, regardless of their market value.

This list will provide you with an interesting comparison between companies when compared against both market value and the number of employees.

You may notice in the blog that there are a lot of companies with a greater market value that is being outshined by smaller companies in terms of the number of employee strength.

The blog will first enlist the company based on its strength of employees and in the end, we’ll give you a summary of its ranking based on the number of employees as well as their market value.

In between, you can also check our ongoing series of Australian company’s enlistment based on various factors via the following links:

10 Largest Companies in Australia

Top Tech Companies in Australia

Youngest Australian Entrepreneurs

List of Failed Australian Startups and Businesses

Let’s get started.

The Australian economy currently ranks as the 13th largest national economy by nominal GDP (source: World Bank).

The Australian economy is dominated by the service sector, which as per one estimate employs 78.8% of the labor force. (Source: Australian Govt Official Website).

You will see this fact reflected in the list below.

Specifically focusing on employment trends, one good news is that the unemployment rate in Australia has decreased by 0.1 points to 3.4%, as per the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

As per the Australian government, health care and social assistance remained the top employment sector with 14.3% of total employment in the country.

On the contrary, electricity, gas, water and waste services were the lowest contributors with 1.1% employment. (Source: Australian govt website)

Now, without further ado, let’s look at the list of the 10 biggest employers in Australia.

FYI: We’ve exclusively used official company sources for the compilation of this list. 

However, in some cases where official figures were not available, data were taken from other reputable sources like Forbes, the BBC, etc.

Woolworths Group

Woolworths Group - Biggest Employers in Australia

Number of Employees: 190,000 

(source: Woolworths official website)

Key Information

Founding year

1885

Industry

Retail, Food & general merchandise 

Market cap

44.84 billion AUD 

Headquarters

Bella Vista, New South Wales, Australia  

Stock symbol

WOW

Woolworths Group Overview

Currently ranked 12th in the ASX-200 index, Woolworth Groups tops the list of biggest employers in Australia by employing around 190,000 people.

The group owns a chain of retail stores across Australia and New Zealand and claims to be Australia’s biggest retailer.

Woolworths stores have a presence in every state and territory of Australia.

The group currently owns the following businesses in Australia:

  • Woolworths Supermarkets
  • Everyday Rewards
  • Big W

In neighboring New Zealand, Woolworths Group owns the following chains:

  • Countdown
  • SuperValue
  • FreshChoice

Employee Satisfaction

Although being the biggest employer in Australia, the group had remained under the controversy of underpaying its employees since 2019, when it publicly admitted to the accusations. (Source: The Guardian)

Nonetheless, the group has featured in the top 2nd position in Linkedin’s ranking of 25 companies that are investing in their talents and helping people in their long-term career success. (source: LinkedIn)

Coles Group

Coles Group - Biggest Employers in Australia

Number of Employees: 120,000

(source: Coles Group LinkedIn Page)

Key Information

Founding year

1914

Industry

Consumer staple, Retail 

Market cap

23.56 billion AUD 

Headquarters

Hawthorn East, Victoria, Australia

Stock symbol

COL

Coles Group Overview

Coles Group Limited currently ranks 17th in the ASX-200 index but shines in the list of biggest employers in Australia at the 2nd position.

Its flagship stores chain is Coles Supermarkets and the group also deals in liquor sales through its Coles Liquor and Coles Express outlets.

Coles is the second largest chain of supermarkets in Australia after Woolworths.

Employee Satisfaction

Coles Group’s official site claims a growing commitment toward diversity and inclusion initiatives set as goals to be achieved by December 2023.

It acknowledges the uniqueness of individuals and claims to create a sense of belonging among its community.

The company has a rating score ranging from 3.2 to 3.5 out of a total of 5 based on its employees’ reviews on different jobs finding sites on the web. (Sources: SEEK, Indeed Australia)

Wesfarmers Limited

Wesfarmers Limited - Biggest Employers in Australia

Number of employees: 107,000

(source: Wesfarmers Official Annual Report – 2020)

Key Information

Founding year

1914

Industry

Consumer staple, Retail 

Market cap

23.56 billion AUD 

Headquarters

Hawthorn East, Victoria, Australia

Stock symbol

COL

Wesfarmers Limited Overview

Wesfarmers Limited was established in 1914 as a co-operative for providing services to Australian farmers.

Later, it turned into a giant conglomerate of 60+ companies.

In 1984, Wesfarmers was registered as a public company. Fast forward today and it presently ranks at number 9 in the ASX-200 index.

Wesfarmers now owns various business divisions including

  • Kmart departmental store
  • Target store
  • Wesfarmers Chemical, Energy & Fertilisers (WesCEF)
  • Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety
  • Australian Pharmaceutical Industries

Employee Satisfaction

The company has a rating score of 3.6 out of a total of 5 based on its employees’ reviews on various jobs finding sites online. (Sources: SEEK, Indeed Australia).

Ramsay Health Care Limited

Ramsay Health Care Limited - Biggest Employers in Australia

Number of employees: 86,000

(source: Ramsay Health Care Official Website)

Key Information

Founding year

1964

Industry

Healthcare  

Market cap

16.24 billion AUD 

Headquarters

Sydney, Australia

Stock symbol

RHC

Ramsay Health Care Limited Overview

Ramsay Health Care Limited is Australia’s largest healthcare provider with around 100 facilities working countrywide. Limited was established in 1914 as a co-operative for providing services to Australian farmers.

The company operates in Australia, Europe, the UK, as well as in Asia.

Some of the divisions owned by Ramsay are

  • Ramsay Health Care UK
  • Ramsay Sante, France
  • Ramsay Sime Darby Health Care
  • Ramsay Pharmacy

Employee Satisfaction

Ramsay Health Care has a rating score ranging from 2.9 to 3.3 out of a total of 5 on different jobs multinationals find sites, with 85% of the company’s reviewers saying that its salaries are high or average. (Sources: SEEK, Indeed Australia)

BHP Group Limited

BHP Group Limited - Biggest Employers in Australia

Number of employees: 80,000

(source: BHP Official Website)

Key Information

Founding year

1885

Industry

Metals and Mining 

Market cap

186.65 billion AUD 

Headquarters

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Stock symbol

BHP

BHP Group Limited Overview

BHP Group Limited is at the top of the ASX-200 index with a whopping market cap of 192.05 billion AUD.

BHP is multinational mining, metals, and natural gas petroleum company and in 2017, it became the world’s largest mining company by market capitalization.

The company deals in copper for renewable energy; Nickel for electric vehicles; Iron ore, and Metallurgical coal for global infrastructure and energy transition.

Employee Satisfaction

In a 2021 survey, it was found that two-thirds of female employees of the company had experienced verbal sexual harassment.

In response, BHP terminated or otherwise permanently removed forty-eight workers from its sites. (source: WAtoday)

BHP has a rating score of 3.6 to 4.1 out of a total of 5 based on its employees’ reviews on various job-finding sites.

Moreover, 93% of the reviews rate the company’s salaries as high or average. (Sources: SEEK, Indeed Australia)

Worley

Worley - Biggest Employers in Australia

Number of employees: 57,600

(source: Worley Official Website)

Key Information

Founding year

1971

Industry

Resources and Energy

Market cap

7.28 billion AUD 

Headquarters

North Sydney, NSW, Australia

Stock symbol

WOR

Worley Overview

WorleyParsons Limited, or more commonly Worley is an American-Australian engineering company that provides consulting and project management services in the energy sector.

Worley has a worldwide pool of engineers, scientists, data scientists, and construction workers to provide solutions in complex energy, chemical, and resources sectors.

Despite its relatively lower ranking on the ASX-200 (75th, source: Market Index), the company still employs a major chunk of workers and ranks at number 6 in our compiled list.

Employee Satisfaction

Worley has a rating score of 3.2 to 3.9 out of a total of 5 based on its employees’ reviews on various job-finding sites. A vast majority of reviews (88%) rate their salaries as high or average. (Sources: SEEK, Indeed Australia)

CIMIC Group

CIMIC Group - Biggest Employers in Australia

Number of employees: 50,000

(source: CIMIC Official Website)

Key Information

Founding year

1949

Industry

Construction, Civil engineering

Market cap

6.85 billion AUD 

Headquarters

North Sydney, NSW, Australia

Stock symbol

CIM

CIMIC Group Overview

The company name stands for Construction, Infrastructure, Mining, and Concessions.

Formerly known as Leighton Holdings, CIMIC is a construction contractor that works in various industries including

  • Telecommunications
  • Engineering and infrastructure
  • Construction and property
  • Mining and resources
  • Environmental services

Employee Satisfaction

CIMIC has a rather impressive score of 4.3 out of a total score of 5. 100% of reviews rated the company’s salaries as high or average. But the score is based on a very limited number of reviews and hence may not be entirely reliable. (Source: SEEK)

Commonwealth Bank

Commonwealth Bank - Biggest Employers in Australia

Number of employees: 48,900

(source: Commonwealth Bank Official Website)

Key Information

Founding year

1911

Industry

Banking and financial services

Market cap

159.92 billion AUD 

Headquarters

Sydney, NSW, Australia

Stock symbol

CBA

Commonwealth Bank Overview

Established in 1911, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia was initially a govt entity but was later privatized in 1996 and is one of the four largest banks in Australia, otherwise known as the “big four”.

It is currently the 2nd largest listed company on the ASX-200 index.

The bank provides a variety of financial services including funds management, retail, business, and institutional banking, and brokering services, among others.

Employee Satisfaction

Commonwealth Bank has ratings in the range of 3.5 to 4 out of a total score of 5 based on its employees’ reviews on various job-finding sites. A huge percentage (88%) of employee reviews suggest that company salaries are high or average. (Source: SEEK, Indeed Australia)

Rio Tinto Group

Rio Tinto Group - Biggest Employers in Australia

Number of employees: 45,000

(source: The Guardian)

Key Information

Founding year

1873

Industry

Metals and mining

Market cap

33.19 billion AUD 

Headquarters

Melbourne, Australia

Stock symbol

RIO

Rio Tinto Group Overview

Rio Tinto is the world’s 2nd largest mining company after BHP. It is an Anglo-Australian multinational company with its headquarters located both in London, England as well as in Melbourne, Australia.

Being an Anglo-Australian company, it is also listed on both London Stock Exchange as well as Australian Securities Exchange.

The company currently ranks 15 in the ASX-200 index but is among the top 10 biggest employers in Australia.

Other than the extraction of minerals, the company also deals in refining Bauxite and Iron ore.

Employee Satisfaction

The group has been in the negative press recently when a global survey of its employees revealed that events of bullying, sexual harassment, and racism are commonplace in its work culture. (Source: The Guardian)

Nonetheless, the company has ratings of 3.5 to 3.9 out of a total score of 5 based on its employees’ reviews on various job-finding sites. Among the reviewers, 89% rate the company’s salaries as high or average. (Source: SEEK, Indeed Australia)

Downer Group

Downer Group - Biggest Employers in Australia

Number of employees: 44,000

(source: Downer Group Official Website)

Key Information

Founding year

1933

Industry

Integrated services industry

Market cap

3.37 billion AUD 

Headquarters

Sydney, Australia

Stock symbol

DOW

Downer Group Overview

Downer Group is an integrated services company that designs, builds, and sustains assets, infrastructure, and facilities across Australia and New Zealand.

It is a 150-year-old enterprise that currently ranks 123rd in the ASX-200 index.

But despite being quite low in its market cap as compared to some of the top listed companies in ASX-200, the group still is among the top 10 biggest employers in Australia employing a huge workforce of more than 44,000 people.

Employee Satisfaction

Downer Group has a rating of 3.5 to 3.9 out of a total score of 5 based on its employees’ reviews on various job-finding sites. Among reviewers, 88% rate the company’s salaries as high or average. (Source: SEEK, Indeed Australia)

Summary of the top 10 employers in Australia

Here is a summary of the top 10 employers in Australia.

As mentioned at the start, you can compare their size against their market cap and draw your own conclusions about their employment strategies.

Source : Disfold Blog

Ranking as per Number of Employees

Company

Number of Employees

Market Cap

(billion AUD)

Position at ASX-200 Index

1.  

Woolworths

190,000

44.84

12th

2.  

Coles

120,000

23.56

17th

3.  

Wesfarmers

107,000

52.61

9th

4.  

Ramsay Health Care

86,000

16.24

24th

5.  

BHP Group

80,000

186.65

1st

6.  

Worley

57,600

7.28

75th

7.  

CIMIC GROUP

50,000

6.85

Not listed

8.  

Commonwealth Bank

48,900

159.92

2nd

9.  

Rio Tinto

45,000

33.19

15th

  10.   

Downer Group

44,000

3.37

123rd

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