Over half of UK employers (51%) expect their workforce to be larger this time next year according to the CBI/Accenture employment trends survey published at the end of 2013. At first glance, this appears to be good news for recruitment agencies, the single most widely-used source of new staff (72%), according to the report.

But is it? This statistic is tempered by another in its wake. Some 68% of the senior executives polled also said that their company website was becoming a major avenue for recruitment. Is this the real trend behind these figures – and, if so, what impact will this have on HR teams over the coming year?

In fact, what may have begun as a cost-cutting exercise during the downturn could end up generating excessive work if not handled correctly. When there are fewer jobs to advertise, posting vacancies and tracking applicants is manageable. On the other hand, if as the CBI/Accenture survey suggests, more organisations will be advertising more jobs, then HR teams could become inundated with work if they attempt to handle the situation themselves.

Although many will retain agencies for some of their recruitment needs, they will also be reluctant to hand back total responsibility. Consequently, I believe that 2014 will see a far wider take up of e-recruitment and applicant tracking software and in many cases those delivered via the cloud will experience the most expansive growth.

Why? Because corporate IT teams will be too busy managing mainstream business systems to focus on HR departments straight away and in many cases, don’t take the time to understand HR’s specialist requirements. Today’s cloud-based technology can be downloaded on-demand and paid for by subscription, so HR teams can more easily be proactive about ensuring they have the right tools in place to manage the increased workload without incurring extra agency fees.

Vacancy-centric software enables HR to manage all stages of the recruitment process themselves and at the same time, enables candidates to track the progress of their individual application. Self-service configuration enables quick and easy tailoring of application forms and workflows so campaigns can be quickly launched and managed.

Although the first signs of an economic recovery are encouraging, business will remain cautious and will only want to employ more staff if their investment looks set to yield a good return. At the same time, existing talent will be seen increasingly as an asset that needs to be protected and nurtured.

However, the fact remains that at the moment, most businesses know far more about their products and services than they do about their staffing trends. Yet there are signs that this attitude is changing. Suddenly, senior management is asking a whole host of questions: Where do our staff come from? What career track do they take? What is the profile of a high-performance employee? How many employees do we train and retain?

Using in-house e-recruitment and other software also helps ensure this information is kept within an organisation and made available for better-informed decision making. In the same way that financial services and retail organisations are now using data to analyse and predict trends, HR teams may soon be required to optimise the value of their data by using it for future planning and resourcing.

HR is currently regarded as one of the hottest area in business by technology developers. If predictions of economic recovery prove correct, then increased job application traffic means this trend is bound to continue throughout 2014. Using the right software could help HR teams address growing workloads without incurring too many extra overheads, while also adding value by providing accurate data for reporting and analysis.

While there’s little doubt that there will still be a place for recruitment agencies in business, it also seems likely that a significant shift in recruitment methods is on the cards for 2014, with more organisations opting to take the whole process back in house.