24/7 Wall St.: Worker productivity is among the most critical measurements used when evaluating businesses and national economies. One way to measure productivity is sales per employee. Companies that can achieve the highest revenue with fewest employees ordinarily find it easier to also create high profit margins. However, companies with very low revenue per employee operate less efficiently and often have a greater challenge generating high margins.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is an almost perfect model of a public company with a high revenue yield per employee. Although it employs a small percentage of retail workers, many of its workers are engineers who create hardware and high-end software for consumers and businesses. The premium price Apple gets for these products, measured against the relatively modest number of employees, places it among the public corporations with the highest revenue per worker.
Apple’s revenue in its current fiscal year will be well over $100 billion with a headcount of about 60,000. At the other end of the spectrum is Royal Caribbean, which has nearly 61,000 workers but will only have revenue of $7.7 billion in its current fiscal year. The cruise line needs more people to sell and operate its cruises than Apple needs to make and sell its products. Apple’s revenue per employee is $2.4 million. Royal Caribbean’s is $128,000.
The great majority of the corporations on this list serve a very large number of individual customers through a large number of stores or locations. Most of these companies’ employees make low wages because most of the tasks they perform do not require high-level skills. The low wages allow the companies to hire armies of people. Several fast-food operations, including McDonald’s and Starbucks, are on the list. Several hospitality businesses, including Starwood Hotels, which owns the Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin and several other hotels brands, and Caesars Entertainment, which primarily operates casinos, are on the list. Some of the companies are also relatively low-end retailers like JCPenney and Gap.
24/7 Wall St. examined the large American companies that have the lowest yield per employee. We started with all public corporations that had annual sales of more than $5 billion in their most recent fiscal years. From this universe of about 450 corporations, we excluded companies that had significant merger and acquisition activity in the past year because business consolidation can temporarily affect employee efficiency. Revenue per employee figures were derived by dividing total annual sales by total workers. We also looked at the revenue growth of these companies over the past year, as well as their profit margins. We particularly focused on the industries in which each company operates to look for common factors among those with the lowest revenue per employee. 24/7 Wall St. examined SEC filings for much of the data, and Capital IQ provided data that allowed us to rank the 450 companies by worker productivity.