Snowflakes or ice-crystals? Is Gen Z really that different?

Yolande Coombes Psychologist, Coach & Facilitator

We’ve read that Gen X and Gen Z have different views of employment. Its’ common for Gen Z to be categorised as lazy, but did you know Boomers levelled almost identical criticisms at Gen X in the 80s?



As you go back in history, each generation levels the same criticisms of the young – cocky, lazy, demanding, overly ambitious, or complacent. So maybe the difference has more to do with how we age and view the next generation than objectively what is happening. 

As you age, you learn there's more gray out there than on the hairs of your head. The less likely you are to make assumed judgments, the more likely you will make the right decisions in your life.

It seems both generations understand the importance of hard work, but they approach it from different angles. Gen Xers tend to be more traditional regarding their views on employment, often valuing stability and security over flexibility or innovation. They prefer having a clear career path with defined roles within an organisation and solid hierarchical structures for making decisions; they often stick with one employer for many years. Their hallmarks are stability and security.

On the other hand, Gen Z is much more focused on personal growth through flexible working arrangements such as remote work options or job-sharing opportunities. This generation is less interested in following traditional hierarchies, favouring flat organisational structures where everyone can contribute equally regardless of title or experience. Their hallmarks are agility and flexibility.

If you, like me, are in the Gen X group, can you hand-on-heart say that you were as focused on stability and security in your youth as much as you might be now, headed towards retirement? The point of civilisation is that we evolve and try and do things better; generally, that window and energy for change is when we are young. So maybe we are freezing up as we age, gradually becoming one block, forgetting we were all once unique snowflakes.


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