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What is Generation Snowflake?

Dr. Joanne Paul- MBBS (UWI), FRCPCH (UK), FRCP (Edin)

Although we talk about the various generations and their differences, many of us are in a blur as to what age group defines the various generations and what are a few of the distinct characteristics. What is Generation X and Y and Z and is there a Generation Snowflake?


The exact age ranges vary slightly according to the source referenced. It starts off with the Veterans or Traditionalists, ages 70 to 90 years. They have traditional views on religion, family, and country. They work hard, are loyal and prefer a clear chain of command and top-down management style


Then the Baby Boomers, 57 to 70 years. These typically use traditional forms of media like television, radio, newspapers. They are concerned now about retirement and maintaining their health. They aften use cash transactions and use Facebook as their main social media account. They are probably the richest of the generations. They prefer a democratic and friendly work environments with equal opportunities.


Then comes Generation X, ages 41 to 56. They are sort of a mixture of Gen Y and Baby Boomers. They were exposed to day-care and divorce so are a bit more cynical. They use traditional media but also appreciate technology and personalised computing. They mix online and cash transactions and are the poster child for the sandwich generation. After having children later in life, they are now sandwiched between managing their aging parents and their still dependent children. With Gen X workplaces should be efficient, fun, flexible, and informal with access to leadership.


Then rolls up the Millennials or Generation Y, 26 to 40 years old. Some even split the Millennials into Gen Y.1 , ages 25 to 29 and Gen Y.2, ages 30 – 40 years old. This generation is sophisticated, technology smart and more immune to marketing pitches. They are into mobile devices in addition to computers, streaming and Netflix and have multiple social media accounts. They have less brand loyalty and have little patience for inefficiency and poor service. They have more financial instability and thus value access over ownership and delay weddings and buying homes. Their work environments need be collaborative, creative, and diverse.



A recent one is Generation Z, the Gen Z, 10 to 25 years old. They grew up on mobile devices so use smartphones primarily in addition to social media. After seeing the financial strains of Gen Y and X, they want to avoid debt and try to have a fairly minimalist approach. Their workplace environment should be entrepreneurial and competitive, allowing them to be independent and to multitask.


Then the younger ones, the ones less than 10 years old now, but the upcoming generation, this is Generation Alpha. They are hyper connected and may have a digital presence even before 3 years old. They have had virtual school, Brexit, Trump era, social justice movements, pandemic and will probably be a highly intelligent and wealthy generation. They are most disconnected with the idea of cash.


Aside from these defined by age group, we also have the Boomerang Generation. They are the ones who chose to now share a home with their parents after previously living on their own – thus they boomerang back to their parents homes. This group was especially increased during the pandemic when persons lost their jobs, choose to leave their jobs, or choose to live closer to parents with the uncertainty of the pandemic situation.


We now also have the term Generation Snowflake, pertaining mainly to Gen Y but also to Gen Z, where it is found that these generations are less resilient, entitled and more sensitive than the previous ones. To be fair, the difference may stem from the fact that the Gen Y and Z are encouraged to express. For the Gen X and baby boomers, if they mentioned that they were feeling anxious, the response would have been licks or more responsibility or just statement confusion.  There was less room and sympathy to moan, complain and talk about feelings, only time to do and work and save and build. The thought is that Gen X and Baby Boomers repress and Gen Y and Gen Z express.


There are other factors. It is much harder for Gen Y and Z to buy a house with unattainable house prices, stagnant salaries, and insecure and temporary working environments. Gen Y and especially Gen Z are the more depressed and anxious generations but the online environment of bullying, social isolation, loneliness, and financial insecurity along with pressures of social media are perfect fodder for this Generation’s issues. Just take a look at the online comments with any post and the extremism of the online trolls. Brutal. For Gen X, one would insult another’s mother and that would be the end of it


The key thing is probably not to compare Generations but to understand them. If you are a Manager or Leader in an organisation or even a parent at home, it is important to understand the need for a clear chain of command with the Veterans and the softer more supportive and patient approach with the Gen Y and Z.  They all have a different language. Let’s learn them and connect, snowflake and all



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