75% Reduction in Burnout Risk
Prodeko, a student & alumni guild at Aalto University, reduced burnout risk from highest in the country to below national average
A driven student population with 30% burnout and exhaustion risk
Prodeko is the guild of Industrial Engineering and Management at Aalto University in Finland. Its prominent alumni members – including Ilkka Paananen of Supercell and Risto Siilasmaa of F-Secure and Nokia – and its relatively small annual intake has made it one of the most difficult university programs to enter in Finland. Subsequently, it has attracted a student population of highly driven individuals, gifted in maths and physics, and with an inclination for business. The culture has always been one of high-achievement, with a tendency towards internal competition and comparison. Tellingly, one alumni described Prodeko as a “litter of alpha lion cubs”.
In 2013 the downside to this culture was made very concrete: in the national AllWell survey of students across Finland, the burnout risk of Prodeko students was sky-high. The Prodeko burnout and exhaustion risk was 30% – double the about 15% of other university programmes. The guild and IEM department realised it had to act.
Wellbeing lectures & mentoring
The programme that was put in place focused on two things: (1) wellbeing lectures and group coaching for first year students, and (2) a community-based shift in culture. The wellbeing lectures for first year students included topics such as holistic wellbeing, self-leadership, and the link between physical & mental wellbeing and high performance. The sessions were facilitated by e.g. Esa Saarinen, and multiple speakers from Hintsa Performance as a pro bono initiative.
The following year these students acted as mentors for the new freshmen, strengthening the support each new cohort of students received. The wellbeing lectures are now in their fifth year, which means that close to all students at Department of Industrial Engineering and Management have gone through the program, creating a clear generational shift to just five years ago.
Burnout risk down by 75% to below national average